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VOL. I. 
















VOL. I. 





Stunt Cnmnritto nf tjp lihmrq nf 





MT. 12.] 



ST. CROIX, Nov. 11, 1769. 

This serves to acknowledge the receipt of yours per Capt. 
Lowndes, which was delivered me yesterday. The truth of 
Captains Lightbowen and Lowndes' information is now veri 
fied by the presence of your father and sister, for whose safe 
arrival I pray, and that they may convey that satisfaction to 
your soul that must naturally flow from the sight of absent 
friends in health ; and shall, for news this way, refer you to 
them. As to what you say respecting your soon having the 
happiness of seeing us all, I wish for an accomplishment of your 
hopes, provided they are concomitant with your welfare, other 
wise not ; though I doubt whether I shall be present or not, 
for, to confess my weakness, Ned, my ambition is prevalent, 
so that I contemn the grovelling condition of a clerk or the 
like, to which my fortune condemns me, and would willingly 
risk my life, though not my character, to exalt my station. 
I am confident, Ned, that my youth excludes me from any hopes 
of immediate preferment, nor do I desire it ; but I mean to pre 
pare the way for futurity. I'm no philosopher, you see, and 
may justly be said to build castles in the air ; my folly makes 

VOL. I. 1 


me ashamed, and beg you'll conceal it ; yet, Neddy, we have 
seen such schemes successful when the projector is constant. I 
shall conclude by saying, I wish there was a war. 

P. S. I this moment received yours by William Smith, and 
am pleased to see you give such close application to study. 


ST. CROIX, Nov. 16, 1771. 

In behalf of Mr. Nicholas Cruger, (who, by reason of a very 
ill state of health, went from this to New- York, the 15th ult.,) I 
have the pleasure to address you by the long-expected sloop 
Thunderbolt, Capt. William Newton, owned by Messrs. Jacob 
Walton, John Harris, and Nicholas Cruger, the latter of whom 
has written you fully concerning her destination, which I need 
not repeat. She has on board besides a parcel of lumber for 
yourself, sundry articles on account of her owners as per in 
closed bill of lading; and when you have disposed of them, 
you will please to credit each partner for one third of the 

Mr. N. Cruger's proportion of this, and the balance of your 
account hitherto, will more than pay for his one third cost of 
her first cargo up ; and for the other two, I shall endeavor to 
place value in your hands betimes. I only wish for a line from 
you to know what will best answer. 

Eeports here represent matters in a very disagreeable light, 
with regard to the Guarda Costas, which are said to swarm upon 
the coast ; but as you will be the best judge of what danger 
there might be, all is submitted to your prudent direction. 

Capt. Newton must arm with you, as he could not so con 
veniently do it here. Give me leave to hint to you that you 
cannot be too particular in your instructions to him. I think he 
seems to want experience in such voyages. Messrs. Walton and 


John H. Cruger are to furnish you themselves with their re 
spective proportion of the cost of the several cargoes. 

The staves on board, if by any means convenient, I beg may 
be returned by the sloop, they will command a good price here, 
and I suppose little or nothing with you ; could they be got at 
I would not send them down, but they are stowed promiscuously 
among other things. 

If convenient, please to deliver the hogsheads, now con 
taining the Indian meal, to the captain as water casks, and 
others should he want them. I supplied him with twenty here. 
I must beg your reference to Mr. Cruger's last letter of the 2d 
ult. for other particulars. 

Our crop will be very early, so that the utmost dispatch is 
necessary to import three cargoes of mules in due time. 


ST. CROIX, Nov. 16, 1771. 

Herewith I give you all your dispatches, and desire you will 
proceed immediately to Curracoa. You are to deliver your 
cargo there to Tileman Cruger, Esq., agreeably to your bill of 
lading, whose directions you must follow in every respect con 
cerning the disposal of your vessel after your arrival. 

You know it is intended that you shall go from thence to the 
main for a load of mules, and I must beg if you do, you'll be very 
choice in the quality of your mules, and bring as many as your 
vessel can conveniently contain by all means take in a large 
supply of provender. Kemember, you are to make three trips 
this season, and unless you are very diligent you will be too late, 
as our crops will be early in. Take care to avoid the Guarda 
Costas. I place an entire reliance upon the prudence of your 


[JET. 19. 




State Company of Artillery, 


Specimen of Notes scattered throughout this Pay-Book. 

Rousseau's Emilius. 

Smith's History of New- York- 


View of the Universe. 

Lex Mercatoria. 

Millet's History of France. 

Memoirs of the House of Bran- 

Eeview of the characters of the 

principal Nations of Europe- 
Review of Europe. 
History of Prussia. 
History of France. 
Lassel's Yoyage through Italy. 
Robinson's Charles Y. 
Present State of Europe. 
Grecian History. 

Baretti's Travels. 

Bacon's Essays. 

Philosophical Transactions. 

Hobbe's Dialogues. 

Plutarch's Morals. 

Cicero's do. 

Orations Demosthenes. 

Cudworth's Intellectual Sys 

Entick's History of the late 

European Settlements in 

Ralt's Dictionary of Trade 
and Commerce. 

Winn's History of America. 

Montaigne's Essays. 

The Dutch in the Greenland fishery have from 150 to 200 
sail and ten thousand seamen. 

It is ordered that in their public prayers they pray that it 
would please God to bless the Government the Lords the 
States and their great and small fisheries. 

Hamburgh and Germany has a balance against England 
they furnish her with large quantities of linen. 


Trade with France greatly against England. 

The trade with Flanders in favor of England. 

A large balance in favor of Norway and Denmark. 

Eate of Exchange with the several Nations in 52, viz. : 
To Yenice, Genoa, Leghorn, Antwerp, Amsterdam, Ham 

To Paris Loss, Gain. 

Postlethwaite supposes the quantity of cash necessary to 
carry on the circulation in a State one third of the rents to the 
land proprietors, or one ninth of the whole product of the 

See the articles Cash and Circulation. 

Messagers in his Secret Memoirs says, that when he returned 
with an account to Lewis XIY. that the Spaniards would not 
come into his project for attacking Jamaica, the Monarch was 
much chagrined at their refusal, and said, " They were the most 
stupid wise people in the world." 

The par betwen land and labor is twice the quantity of land 
whose product will maintain the laborer. In France one acre 
and a half will maintain one. In England three, owing to the 
difference in the manner of living. 

Aristotle's Politics, chap. 6, definition of money, &c. 

The proportion of gold and silver, as settled by Sir Isaac 
Newton's proposition, was 1 to 14. It was generally through 
Europe 1 to 15. In China I believe it is 1 to 10. 

It is estimated that the labor of twenty-five persons, on 
an average, will maintain a hundred in all the necessaries of 

Postlethwaite, in his time, supposes six millions of people in 
England. The ratio of increase has been found by a variety of 
observations to be, that 100,000 people augment annually, one 


year with, another, to . Mr. Kerseboom, agreeing with Dr. 

Halley, makes the number of people thirty -five times the num 
ber of births in a year. 

Extracts from Demosthenes' Orations. 

Philippic 1. " As a general marches at the head of his troops, 
so ought wise politicians, if I dare use the expression, to march 
at the head of affairs ; insomuch that they ought not to wait the 
event, to know what measures to take ; but the measures which 
they have taken ought to produce the event.' 11 

" Where attack him ? it will be said. Ah, Athenians war, 
war itself will discover to you his weak sides, if you seek them." 
Sublimely simple. Vide Long. c. 16. 

Are the limits of the several States and the acts on which 
they are founded ascertained, and are our ministers provided 
with them ? What intelligence has been given to Congress by 
our ministers of the designs, strength by sea and land, actual 
interests and views of the different powers in Europe? 

The Government established (by Lycurgus) remained in 
vigor about five hundred years, till a thirst of empire tempted 
the Spartans to entertain foreign troops, and introduce Persian 
gold to maintain them ; then the institutions of Lycurgus fell at 
once, and avarice and luxury succeeded. 

He (Numa) was a wise prince, and went a great way in civil 
izing the Eomans. The chief engine he employed for this pur 
pose was religion, which could alone have sufficient empire over 
the minds of a barbarous and warlike people to engage them to 
cultivate the arts of peace. 

Doctor Halley's Table of Observations exhibiting the pro 
babilities of life ; containing an account of the whole number of 
people at Breslau, capital of Silesia, and the number of those of 
every age from one to a hundred. [Here follows the Table, with 
comments by A. H. 


When the native money is worth more than the par in 
foreign, exchange is high ; when worth less it is low. 

Portugal trade Spanish trade Artificers Money Ex 
change Par of exchange Balance of trade Manufactures 
Foundry Coin Gold Silver Naval power Council of 
trade Fishery. 

Money coined in England from the reign of Queen Elizabeth. 

Short rule to determine the average interest per annum, for 
any sum of money for a given term of years, at a given rate 
discharging annually an equal proportion of the principal. Ex 

Quere. Would it not be advisable to let all taxes, even 
those imposed by the States, be collected by persons of Congres 
sional appointment ; and would it not be advisable to pay the 
collectors so much per cent, on the sums collected ? 


NEW-YORK, May 26, 1776. 


I take the liberty to request your attention to a few par 
ticulars, which will be of considerable importance to the future 
progress of the company under my command : and I shall be 
much obliged to you for as speedy a determination concerning 
them as you can conveniently give. The most material is 
respecting the pay. Our company, by their articles, are to be 
subject to the same regulations, and to receive the same pay, as 
the Continental Artillery. Hitherto I have conformed to the 
standard laid down in the Journal of the Congress, published the 
10th May, 1775 ; but I am well informed that, by some later 
regulation, the pay of the Artillery has been augmented, and 

8 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [^Ei. 19. 

now stands according to the following rates : Captain, 10. 13. 4. 
Captain-Lieutenant, 8. Lieutenants, each, 7. 6. 8. Ser 
geants, 3. 6. 8. Corporals, 3. 1. 4. Bombardiers, 3. 1. 4. 
Gunners, 3. Matrosses, 2. 17. 4. Drummers and Fifers, 3. 
By comparing these with my pay-rolls, you will discover a con 
siderable difference ; and I doubt not you will be easily sensible 
that such a difference should not exist. 

I am not personally interested in having an augmentation 
agreeably to the above rates, because my own pay will remain 
the same as that it now is : but I make this application on 
behalf of the company ; as I am fully convinced such a disad 
vantageous distinction will have a very pernicious effect on the 
minds and behavior of the men. They do the same duty with 
the other companies, and think themselves entitled to the same 
pay. They have been already comparing accounts ; and many 
marks of discontent have lately appeared on this score. As to 
the circumstance of our being confined to the defence of the 
colony, it will have little or no weight ; for there are but few in 
the company, who would not as willingly leave the colony on 
any necessary expedition, as stay in it: and they will not, 
therefore, think it reasonable to have their pay curtailed on such 
a consideration. Captain Beauman, I understand, enlists all his 
men on the above terms ; and this makes it difficult for me to 
get a single recruit : for men will naturally go to those who pay 
them best. On this account, I should wish to be immediately 
authorized to offer the same pay to all who may incline to enlist. 
The next thing I should wish to know, is, whether I must be 
allowed any actual expenses that might attend the enlistment of 
men, should I send into the country for that purpose. The 
expense would not be great ; and it would enable me to com 
plete my company at once, and bring it the sooner into proper 
order and discipline. 

Also, I should be glad to be informed, if my company is to 
be allowed the frock which is given to the other troops as a 
bounty ? This frock would be extremely serviceable in summer, 
while the men are on fatigue ; and would put it in their power 


to save their uniform mucli longer. I am, gentlemen, with the 
greatest respect, 

Your most obedient servant, 



July 26, 1776. 


I am obliged to trouble you, to remove a difficulty which 
arises respecting the quantity of subsistence which is to be 
allowed my men. Inclosed you have the rates of rations, which 
is the standard allowance of the whole continental, and even the 
provincial, army ; but it seems Mr. Curtenius cannot afford to 
supply us with more than his contract stipulates ; which, by 
comparison, you will perceive is considerably less than the fore- 
mentioned rate. 

My men, you are sensible, are, by their articles, entitled to 
the same subsistence with the continental troops : and it would 
be to them an insupportable discrimination, as well as a breach 
of the terms of their enlistment, to give them almost a third less 
provisions than the whole army besides receives. I doubt not 
you will readily put this matter upon a proper footing. 

Hitherto we have drawn our full allowance from Mr. Cur 
tenius ; but he did it upon the supposition that he would have a 
farther consideration for the extraordinary supply. 

At present, however, he scruples to proceed in the same way, 
till it can be put upon a more certain foundation. I am, gen 

With the utmost esteem and respect, 

Your most ob't and most humble serv't, 


Captain of New- York Artillery. 

10 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [J&i. 19. 


NEW- YORK, August, 1776. 

It is necessary I should inform you that there is at present a 
vacancy in my company, arising from the promotion of Lieut. 
Johnson to a Captaincy in one of the new Gallies (which com 
mand, however, he has since resigned for a very particular 
reason). As Artillery officers are scarce in proportion to the 
call for them, and as myself and my remaining officers sustain 
an extraordinary weight of duty on account of the present 
vacancy, I shall esteem it a favor, if you will be pleased, as 
soon as possible, to make up my deficiency by a new appoint 
ment. It would be productive of much inconvenience should 
not the inferior officers succeed in course, and from this consid 
eration I doubt not you will think it proper to advance Mr. 
Gilleland and Mr. Bean, and fill up the third lieutenancy with 
some other person. I would beg the liberty warmly to recom 
mend to your attention Thomas Thompson now first Sergeant 
in my company a man highly deserving of notice and prefer 
ment. He has discharged his duty in his present station with 
uncommon fidelity, assiduity, and expertness. He is a very 
good disciplinarian possesses the advantage of having seen a 
good deal of service in Germany, has a tolerable share of com 
mon sense, and will not disgrace the rank of an officer and gen 
tleman. In a word, I verily believe, he will make an excellent 
Lieutenant, and his advancement will be a great encouragement 
and benefit to my company in particular, and will be an 
animating example to all men of merit to whose knowledge 
it comes. Myself and my officers will be much obliged to the 
Hon. the Convention to favor us with our commissions with all 
convenient speed, as they may be highly requisite under some 
circumstances that may possibly hereafter arise. 


Captain of New- York Artillery. 



MORRISTOWN, March 6, 1777. 


It is necessary I should inform you of the changes which 
have happened in your Company of Artillery, which should 
have been done long ago, had I not been prevented by sickness, 
from which I am but lately recovered. 

General Washington has been pleased to appoint me one of 
his Aids-de-Camp. Captain-Lieutenant James Moore, a promis 
ing officer, and who did credit to the State he belonged to, died 
about nine weeks ago. Lieutenant James Gilleland, some time 
before that, resigned his commission, prompted by domestic 
inconveniences, and other motives best known to himself. There 
remain now only two officers, Lieutenants Bean and Thompson, 
and about thirty men. The reason that the number of men is so 
reduced, besides death and desertions, was owing to a breach of 
orders in Lieutenant Johnson, who first began the enlistment of 
the company ; and who, instead of engaging them during the 
war, according to the intention of the State, engaged them for 
the limited term of a twelvemonth. The time of those enlisted 
by him has expired ; and for want of powers to re-engage them, 
they have mostly entered into other corps. 

I have to request you will favor me with instructions as to 
your future intentions. If you design to retain the company on 
the particular establishment of the State, it will be requisite to 
complete the number of officers, and make provision to have the 
company filled by a new enlistment. In this case, I should beg 
leave to recommend to your notice, as far as a Captain-Lieuten 
ancy, Mr. Thompson. Mr. Bean is so incurably addicted to a 
certain failing, that I cannot, in justice, give my opinion in favor 
of his preferment. But if you should determine to resign the 
company, as I expect you will, considering it as an extraordinary 
burthen, without affording any special advantages, the Continent 
will readily take it off your hands, so soon as you shall intimate 


your design to relinquish it. I doubt not you will see the pro 
priety of speedily deciding on the matter, which the good of the 
service requires. 

I am, with the sincerest respect, gentlemen, 

Your most ob't and most humble servant, 



KINGSTON, March 17, 1777. 


We are to inform you, that Robert K. Livingston is, with us, 
a committee appointed by Convention to correspond with you at 
Head Quarters. You will give us pleasure in the information 
that His Excellency is recovered from the illness which had 
seized him the day before Messrs. Cuyler and Taylor left Head 
Quarters. Any occurrences in the army which may have hap 
pened, you will please to communicate. 

In answer to your letter to the Convention, of the sixth of 
March instant, we are to inform you, that it is determined to 
permit that company to join the Continental Army, for which 
you will take the necessary steps. At the same time, you will 
take some notice of the disposition of our guns, which, as you 
well know, are all in the Continental service ; and unless some 
little attention is paid to them, we may, perhaps, never see them 

We are, Sir, 

Your most obed't and humble servants, 

Gouv. MORRIS, 


KINGSTON, 26 March, 1777. 


By unavoidable incidents, this letter is delayed beyond the 
usual time ; for which I assure you I am extremely sorry. Your 


favor gave great pleasure, as well to the committee as to several 
members of the House, who are much pleased with your judi 
cious caution, to distinguish between what you sport as your pri 
vate opinions, and the weighty sentiments of the General. 

No circumstance could have more contributed to our happi 
ness, than to hear of the General's recovery ; which, believe me, 
gave universal joy. Be pleased to make my most respectful 
compliments to his lady. 

That the enemy are willing to desert, can hardly be doubted ; 
and a variety of sufficient reasons may easily be assigned. 

Want of success is not among the least considerable : add 
also the want of pay, the want of plunder. I think the situation 
of the enemy clearly demonstrates the want of political wisdom, 
and knowledge of war, at the fountain head. To pass over the 
succession of other blunders they committed, from their attempt 
on Long Island to their present disposition, their treatment of the 
soldiery is a monument of folly. First, to prevent their foreign 
mercenaries from deserting, they kept back arrearages of pay. 
And secondly, to prevent mutiny, and silence murmurings, they 
allowed the plundering of a country they intend to conquer. 
Here common sense alone would have informed them, had they 
listened to her dictates, that by irritating they would never sub 
due ; and that an indulgence in excesses would relax all disci 
pline. Taught by experience, they begin now to wind up the 
cords ; but as it was said of James the First, they are always 
either too high or too low. Instead of liberal discipline, they 
ask servile obedience. Would it not be wise to meet this with 
taunting insult ? To encourage our men in abuse of them, as 
poor slaves, hired without pay, yet not daring to vent a com 
plaint ; and contrast the different situations : at the same time 
inviting them to come and taste the air of freedom ? The Eng 
lish are the proudest people on earth. 

You will hear more of a little expedition against Peekskill at 
Head Quarters than I can tell you. I suppose it is intended as a 
diversion ; if so, it is a ridiculous one. 

I am, &c., 

Gouv. MORRIS. 

Col. Alex. Hamilton. 



KINGSTON, March 29, 1777. 


We received your favor of the instant, and am obliged 
to you not only for your acceptance of a very troublesome chal 
lenge, but for the alacrity with which you meet us in the field. 
We wish it would afford you as many laurels, as you are like to 
reap elsewhere. 

You have heard of the enemy's little excursion to Peekskill ; 
we wish it may not encourage them to make a more serious 
attempt : may it not be proper to remove the stores to a place of 
greater safety ? 

We are somewhat alarmed at accounts of the Indians having 
left their villages ; from whence many conclude, that they have 
hostile intentions : though as they are much in our power, we 
cannot be entirely of this opinion. 

Your reasons for supposing that the enemy will not proceed 
to Philadelphia till the beginning of May seem to be conclusive ; 
are you equally well satisfied that they may not open their 
campaign by sailing to the northward? You have probably 
seen some affidavits of people who had been to New- York, 
which were sent by Convention to his Excellency the General. 
As this does not go by our own express, we do not care to risk 
any thing more on this subject, which we shall treat more at 
large in our next. 

Time must shortly prove the truth of Mr. Franklin's conjec 
ture, which derives great credit from the several accounts we 
daily receive of the state of Europe. You will oblige us by 
communicating any further intelligence you may have received 
on this subject ; its importance renders us solicitous about the 

I am, Sir, by order, 

Your most obed't humble serv't, 

Col. Alexander Hamilton. 



KINGSTON, April 2, 1777. 


We received yours of the 29th ultimo, and are extremely 
sorry to hear of your indisposition. 

In our last we expressed an apprehension that the enemy 
might possibly make Hudson's river their first object ; not only 
because they could open their campaign there earlier than they 
could go to Pennsylvania (as in one case their army would move 
by land, and in the other by water) ; but because, having the 
command of the river, by taking the advantage of a southerly 
wind, they would have it in their power to run up in a few 
hours ; and, by destroying the boats that are along its banks, 
render it impossible for General Washington's army to cross till 
they have marched to Albany ; a thing almost impracticable at 
this season of the year, considering the distance, and badness of 
the roads. This would enable them, not only to ravage all this 
State, but to enter Connecticut on its western side, where the 
disaffection of the people will insure them many friends. We 
have strained every nerve to prepare for their reception, having 
vested a power in General George Clinton to make whatever 
draughts he may think necessary from the militia: in conse 
quence of which, every third man is ordered to be drawn from 
the southern, and every fifth man from the northern counties. 
We are not without apprehensions that these heavy draughts 
will be dreadfully felt, in the want of the necessary supplies for 
the army and inhabitants, which can hardly be raised under 
such circumstances in this State : but more remote evils must 
yield to the pressures of necessity. We inclose you, by direc 
tion of Convention, some resolutions lately passed, in order to 
render the laws against spies, and secret enemies, more effectual. 
You will be pleased to deliver them, with our respectful compli 
ments, to His Excellency the General. 

We are happy to hear of the arrival of the vessel with arms 
from France, as no supplies can be more necessary. 

16 HAMILTON'S WORKS. ^E T . 20. 

We flatter ourselves that it will shortly be in our power to 
communicate more important intelligence from that quarter. 
We are, with great respect, Sir, 

Your most obedient and humble servants, 
Col. Alex. Hamilton. 


HEA QUARTERS, Morristown, April 5, 1777. 


Since my last I have had the pleasure of receiving your 
reply to my two favors of the 29th ultimo and 2d current. I 
am happy enough to be able to inform you, that my indisposition, 
which was the occasion of my brevity when I last wrote, is 
now removed. 

The opinion I advanced respecting the enemy's not moving 
before the beginning of May, seems to be shaken, though not 
entirely overthrown, by some present appearances. We have 
received information that they are embarking about three thou 
sand men on board of transports, which are lying at the Hook, 
by way of Staten Island. This, it is conjectured, is with a view 
to the Delaware ; and the supposition is confirmed, by the cir 
cumstance of a confederacy lately detected at Philadelphia, who, 
among other things, were endeavoring, by the temptation of 
fifty pounds, to engage persons as pilots up that river. The 
extreme difficulties they must labor under for want of forage, 
and the infinite hazard they must run by moving with a small 
body of about five thousand men, with an enemy in the rear, 
incapable of sparing any considerable body of troops to form a 
post behind, and be an asylum to them in case of accident, 
these circumstances will hardly allow me to think they will be 


daring enough to make the attempt at this time. But on the 
other hand, as they know we are in a progressive state as to 
numbers, and other matters of importance, and as they have no 
prospect of early reinforcement, and are in a state of uncer 
tainty as to any, from the bustling aspect of European affairs, it 
is probable they may conceive a necessity of making a push at 
all risks. Perhaps, however, this embarkation is intended for 
some other purpose ; to make a diversion, or execute some par 
tisan exploit elsewhere. On the whole, I find it difficult to 
believe they are yet ready for any capital operation. 

As to your apprehensions of an attempt up the North river, 
I imagine you may discard any uneasiness on that score, 
although it will be at all times advisable to be on the watch 
against such a contingency. It is almost reduced to a certainty, 
that the principal views of the enemy, in the ensuing campaign, 
will be directed towards the southward, and to Philadelphia more 
immediately ; of which idea, the discovery before mentioned, 
with respect to pilots, is no inconsiderable confirmation. Phila 
delphia is an object calculated to strike and attract their atten 
tion. It has all along been the main source of supplies towards 
the war ; and the getting it into their possession, would deprive 
us of a wheel we could very badly spare, in the great political 
and military machine. They are sensible of this, and are equally 
sensible, that it contains, in itself, and is surrounded by, a prodi 
gious number of persons attached to them, and inimical to us, 
who would lend them all the assistance they could, in the further 
prosecution of their designs. It is also a common and well- 
grounded rule in war, to strike first and principally, at the capi 
tal towns and cities, in order to the conquest of a country. 

I must confess I do not see any object equally interesting to 
draw their efforts to the northward. Operations merely for plun 
dering and devastation can never answer their end ; and if they 
could, one part of the continent would do nearly as well as an 
other. And as to the notion of forming a junction with the 
northern army, and cutting off the communication between the 
northern and southern States, I apprehend it will do better in 
speculation than in practice. Unless the geography of the coun- 

VOL. I. 2 


try is far different from any thing I can conceive, to effect this 
would require a chain of posts, and such a number of men at 
each, as would never be practicable or maintainable, but to an 
immense army. In their progress, by hanging upon their rear, 
and seizing every opportunity of skirmishing, their situation 
might be rendered insupportably uneasy. 

But for fear of mistake, the General has determined to collect 
a considerable body of troops at or about Peekskill, which will 
not be drawn off till the intentions of the enemy have acquired 
a decisive complexion. These will be ready, according to con 
junctures, either to proceed northerly or southerly, as may be 
requisite. Every precaution should be taken to prevent the 
boats from being destroyed, by collecting them, at the first move 
ment of the enemy, under cover of one of the forts, or into some 
inlet, difficult of access, and easily defensible with a small num 
ber of men. The loss of them would be an irreparable disad 

The enemy's attempt upon Peekskill is a demonstration of 
the folly of having any quantity of stores at places so near the 
water, and so much exposed to a sudden inroad. There should 
never be more there than sufficient to answer present demands. 
We have lost a good deal in this way at different times, and I 
hope experience will at last make us wiser. 

His Excellency lately had a visit from the Oneida Chief and 
five others. He managed them with a good deal of address, and 
sent them away perfectly satisfied. He persuaded them to go to 
Philadelphia, but they declined it, alleging their impatience to 
return, and remove the erroneous opinions of their countrymen, 
from the misrepresentations of British emissaries, which they 
were apprehensive might draw them into some rash proceedings. 
They parted, after having made the most solemn protestations of 
friendship and good will. His Excellency has been very busy 
all day in dispatching the southern post, which has prevented me 
giving him your resolve. It will, no doubt, be very acceptable ; 
and it is with pleasure I inform you, that the zeal and abilities of 
the New- York Convention hold the first rank in his estimation. 

No news from France, save that the Congress have obtained 

-ffiT.20.] CORRESPONDENCE. 19 

a credit there, for which, they can draw bills to the amount of 
100,000 sterling. This will be extremely serviceable in carry 
ing on a trade with the French. The new troops begin to come 
in. If we can shortly get any considerable accession of strength, 
we may be able to strike some brilliant stroke.. 
I am, Gentlemen,, with the greatest respect, 

Your most obedient servant, 


P. S. We have been some time endeavoring to negotiate a 
regular cartel ; but it has been lately broken off, principally on 
account of Major General Lee. General Howe will not allow 
him to be comprehended under the general idea of American 


KINGSTON, 8th April, 1777. 

Yours of the third came safe to hand this day, and gave us 
great pleasure by certifying your health. The smallness of our 
numbers will not permit the loss of one useful citizen. It is, 
therefore, a determined point, that, sick or well, you are by no 
means to die. 

At this distance, it is impossible to determine what the enemy 
can, or what they cannot, do. But, certainly, if we can bring a 
respectable force into the field previous to their movements, it 
must be extremely difficult for them to advance or retreat. The 
latter, indeed, may be assisted by the works they are throw 
ing up. 

Their attempt upon the Delaware is far from improbable. 
Howe is certainly a stupid fellow : but if he reasons so far, the 
taking of Philadelphia would give a splendid sight to their ma- 


noeuvres in the eyes of Europe. This would be productive of 
advantage. The seizing that large city, would also afford him 
much benefit in the several ways which you suggest. But would 
it not be wise to permit his force to be thus divided, that one 
part after another might be cut to pieces ? 

Since the affair at Peekskill, their views this way seem to be 
less probable. It was, doubtless, unmilitary to warn us of our 
danger. They will also soon learn that we are in this quarter, in 
a decent posture of defence ; and that may decide their fluctu 
ating councils. 

Perhaps, after all, they will find it more convenient to keep 
post at Amboy, with an advanced party at Brunswick, secure 
New- York, and carry on a kind of naval partisan war, till the 
further aid and order of their masters. 

You will take care, whenever you write to us matters which 
ought not to be seen by all, to direct to one of w only in a sepa 
rate letter : while that which is merely indifferent, comes under 
your usual direction. The reason is, that sometimes, when we 
do not happen to be immediately in the way, your letters are 
opened by the President; and although no evil consequences 
have accrued from this as yet, it is nevertheless proper to guard 
against it. 

What you say relative to a cartel, reminds us of the case of 
Major Edminston, who was taken by General Schuyler at the 
same time with Sir John Johnson. This gentleman, as His Ex 
cellency will recollect, was sent into the enemy's quarters, with 
a letter to negotiate an exchange for one of three Majors, pris 
oners in their hands. He hath since returned, with a letter from 
Howe to General Schuyler, purporting that one of those Majors 
shall be exchanged for him, he being permitted to join his regi 
ment in Canada. He was three weeks, or thereabouts, travelling 
from New- York to Albany ; of which the Convention being 
informed, caused him to be made prisoner, and intend sending 
him to Head Quarters. He is well acquainted with the face of 
this country, and the disposition of its several inhabitants. He 
has sufficient interest with the Indians to accomplish an escape. 
Upon the whole (as it will not be prudent to confine him within 


this State), it is submitted, whether it would not be proper to 
secure him elsewhere until the close of the present campaign ? 
We are, Sir, 

Your most ob't and humble servants, 

Gouv. MORRIS. 
Colonel Hamilton. 


BASKENRIDGE, April 12, 1777. 


The troops under Colonel McClanagan, which I expected at 
their quarters between the first and second mountains yesterday, 
I find took the route by Pluckamin and lodged there last night. 
I sent this morning at daybreak a messenger to bring them into 
the Boundbrook Koad at Boylans. I understand Col. Spotswood's 
regiment is on the march by the same route. 

The time of Capt. James Scott's company will expire the 
14th. Lieut. Kidgelow and the bulk of the men have behaved 
very well ; as they can now be spared, I believe it will be best 
that I be furnished with His Excellency's dismission of them by 
the day. 

I wrote to His Excellency on Thursday last about the ap 
pointment of Wilcocks. If he is approved of I wish you would 
get both Mr. Williams and him in orders, and that you would be 
so good as to write him to come to me. 

If there be any thing in General Orders within these two or 
three days that can relate to the troops here, I should be glad to 
have a copy of them. 

I am, very sincerely, 

Your affectionate humble servt., 

Colonel Hamilton. 



KINGSTON, 16th April, 1777. 


"We are directed, by Convention, to inclose a Resolution 
passed this day, in addition to that of the first of April, which 
we before did ourselves the honor to transmit to His Excellency, 
by which we hope to put an effectual stop to any further deser 
tions to the enemy ; as the disaffected have been hitherto greatly 
emboldened by their having, for the want of courts, escaped the 
punishment they deserved. It frequently happens, that igno 
rant young lads are seduced to enlist with the enemy, and are 
taken in their way to them. We have sometimes thought that 
such might safely be admitted to enlist in our regiments (which 
they are generally inclined to do), as a change of company will 
often make an alteration in their sentiments, in which case a 
useful number may be preserved to the community. We wish 
you to consult the General on this subject, and to favor us with 
his opinion, by which we shall regulate our future conduct 
relative to such persons. 

We are obliged to you for communicating by Mr. Troop, 
an account of the engagement of Sunday, in which we equally 
admire the extreme caution of the enemy, and the spirit of that 
handful of men by whom they were opposed. The same 
bravery will, we hope, prove as fortunate, when a fairer occasion 
offers for its exertion. We have daily information of plots that 
are formed in this State ; and a few days ago apprehended a 
Colonel who was raising a regiment for the service of the enemy. 
We hope, by a seasonable severity, to prevent this evil from 
becoming very extensive. 

We are, Sir, &c. 





The inclosed was intended to be sent with the prisoners men 
tioned in the list ; but before this could be conveniently done, 
Mr. Sims, one of the Chief Justices of the State, came to this 
town, and informed me, that the Governor and Council were 
upon the point of adjourning; and that the sending of the 
prisoners to them, would only be an embarrassment, without 
answering, at present, any valuable purpose. He considered 
himself authorized to take the matter under his direction, and 
desired a sight of the papers relating to it. After perusing 
them, he determined it was best the prisoners should remain 
here, until he should receive your further orders on the subject ; 
and delivered me a letter for you, containing a representation of 
their cases, as they appear to him, in order to know your sense, 
in what manner they shall be disposed of. 

He admits "two of them, Woolverton and Silas Howel, to 

In addition to the former, I send you a second list of four 
others that have been lately committed to jail. These are high 
offenders, and among the number of those who it were to be 
wished could have an immediate trial and punishment. Isaac 
Ogden, in particular, is one of the most barefaced impudent 
fellows that ever came under my observation. He openly 
acknowledged himself a subject of the King of Great Britain ; 
and flatly refused to give any satisfaction to some questions 
that were put to him respecting one Moses Nichols, an emissary 
frpm the enemy ; assigning no other reason for his refusal, than 
that he had given his word to be silent. 

A spirit of disaffection shows itself with so much boldness and 
violence in different parts of this State, that it is the ardent wish 
of His Excellency, no delay, which can be avoided, might be 
used in making examples of some of the most atrocious offend- 

24 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [&. 20. 

ers. If something be not speedily done, to strike a terror into 
the disaffected, the consequences must be very disagreeable. 

Among others, all security to the friends of the American 
cause will be destroyed ; and the natural effect of this, will be an 
extinction of zeal in seconding and promoting it. Their attach 
ment, if it remain, will be a dead, inactive, useless principle. And 
the disaffected, emboldened by impunity, will be encouraged to 
proceed to the most dangerous and pernicious lengths. 
I have the honor to be, with great respect, 

Your Excellency's most ob't servant, 

To Gov. Livingston. 


ST. CROIX, April 31, 1777. 


A pretty fair opportunity just offering for Philadelphia, I 
could not omit acknowledging the receipt of your very circum 
stantial and satisfactory letter of the 14th February. The thing 
has happened which I wished for. We have been amazed here 
by vague, imperfect, and very false accounts of matters from the 
Continent : and I always told my friends, that if you survived 
the campaign, and had an hour of leisure to write to me, I 
expected a more true, circumstantial, and satisfactory account of 
matters in your letter, than by all the public papers and private 
intelligence we had received here. I have but a moment to 
command at present, and have not time to remark upon your 
letter. I can only inform you, that it has given high satisfac 
tion to all friends here. We rejoice in your good character and 
advancement, which is, indeed, only the just reward of merit. 
May you still live to deserve more and more from the friends of 
America, and to justify the choice, and merit the approbation, of 


name which will shine with distinguished lustre in the annals of 
history a name dear to the friends of the Liberties of Man 
kind ! Mark this : You must be the Annalist and Biographer, 
as well as the Aide-de-Camp, of General Washington and the 
Historiographer of the AMEKIC AN WAK ! I take the liberty 
to insist on this. I hope you take minutes and keep a Journal ! 
If you have not hitherto, I pray do it henceforth. I seriously, 
and with all my little influence, urge this upon you. This may 
be a new and strange thought to you : but if you survive the 
present troubles, / aver few men will be as well qualified to 
write the history of the present glorious struggle. God only 
knows how it may terminate. But however that may be, it will 
be a most interesting story. 

I congratulate you on your recovery from a long and dan 
gerous illness. It is my own case I am just convalescent, after 
the severest attack I ever had in my life. I hope to write you 
more at large soon, and remain, with the tender of every kind 
and friendly wish, 

My dear Sir, 

Your affectionate servant, 



HEAD QUARTERS, Morristown, 6th May, 1777. 


The bearer of this is Mr. Malmedi, a French gentleman of 
learning, abilities, and experience. I believe he thinks himself 
entitled to preferment, and comes to Congress for that purpose. 
At the recommendation of General Lee, he was made Brigadier 
General by the State of Khode Island ; and filled the station to 
the satisfaction of his employers, as appears by a letter from 
Governor Cook, speaking of him in the highest terms of appro 
bation. This has led him to hope that he should be adopted by 


the Continent on an equal footing. But in this he will, no 
doubt, be mistaken, as there are many insuperable objections to 
such an event. Among others, it would tend to raise the expec 
tations of the Frenchmen in general, already too high, to a pitch 
which it would be impossible to gratify or endure. It might 
not, however, be amiss to do whatever propriety would war 
rant to keep him in good humor, as he is a man of sense and 
merit. I think policy would justify the advancing him a step 
higher than his former Continental rank. 

Congress, in the beginning, went upon a very injudicious 
plan with respect to Frenchmen. To every adventurer that 
came, without even the shadow of credentials, they gave the 
rank of Field officers. This circumstance, seconding the aspir 
ing disposition natural to those people, carried the expectations 
of those who had really any pretensions to the character of offi 
cers, to a length that exceeds all the bounds of moderation. As 
it was impossible to pursue this impolitic plan, the Congress 
have begun to retrench their excessive liberality ; and the conse 
quence has been, universal disgust and discontent. 

It would, perhaps, be injurious, as the French are much 
addicted to national punctilio, to run into the opposite extreme 
to that first embraced, and, by that mean, create a general 
clamor and dissatisfaction. Policy suggests the propriety of dis 
criminating a few of the most deserving, and endeavoring to 
keep them in temper, even by gratifying them beyond what 
they can reasonably pretend to. This will enable us to shake off 
the despicable part with safety, and to turn a deaf ear to the 
exorbitant demands of the many. It will easily be believed in 
France that their want of merit occasioned their want of suc 
cess, from the extraordinary marks of favor that have been con 
ferred on others : whereas, the united voice of complaint from 
the whole, might make ill impressions in their own country, 
which it is not our interest should exist. 

We are already greatly embarrassed with the Frenchmen 
among us ; and, from the genius of the people, shall continue to 
be so. It were to be wished, that our agents in France, instead 
of courting them to come out, were instructed to give no encour- 


agement but where they could not help it ; that is, where appli 
cations were made to them by persons countenanced and sup 
ported by great men, whom it would be impolitic to disoblige. 
Be assured, Sir, we shall never be able to satisfy them; and 
they can be of no use to us, at least for some time. Their igno 
rance of our language ; of the disposition of the people ; the 
resources and deficiencies of the country ; their own habits and 
tempers : all these are disqualifications that put it out of their 
power to be of any real service to us. You will consider what 
I have said entirely as my own sentiments, and, 
Believe me, with great regard, Sir, 

Your most obedient servant, 

William Duer, Esq. 


KINGSTON, 16th May, 1777. 


I had the pleasure of your two favors within two days of each 
other, and am very happy to find that our form of government 
meets with your approbation. That there are faults in it is not 
to be wondered at, for it is the work of men, and of men, per 
haps, not the best qualified for such undertakings. I think it 
deficient, for the want of vigor in the executive ; unstable, from 
the very nature of popular elective governments ; and dilatory, 
from the complexity of the legislature. 

For the first, I apologize by hinting the spirit which now 
reigns in America, suspiciously cautious. For the second, 
because unavoidable. For the third, because a simple legisla 
ture soon possesses itself of too much power for the safety of 
its subjects. God grant it may work well, for we must live 
under it. 

I cannot persuade myself that Howe will either go to Phila 
delphia or come hither. In either case, General Washington 


can hang upon his rear, and place him in the light rather of a 
fugitive than a conqueror. If he bends his efforts this way, the 
Council of Safety, you may depend upon it, will exert them 
selves to make his situation as uneasy as he would wish ; prob 
ably more so. The spirit of the Tories, we have great reason to 
believe, is entirely broken in this State. If it is not, it will soon 
be so ; for they shall have a few more executions, than which 
nothing can be more efficacious. I speak from experience : but 
then it is necessary to disperse the victims of public justice 
throughout different parts of the several States ; for nothing but 
ocular demonstration can convince these incredulous beings that 
we do really hang them. I wish the several States would 
follow our example. Pennsylvania, in particular, would ex 
perience many good effects from a vigorous manly executive. 

Your most obedient and humble servant, 

G-ouv. MORRIS. 
Col. Hamilton. 


KINGSTON, 24th May, 1777. 


You certainly had no reason to complain of me, for not 
informing you of the destruction of the stores at St. John's. 
True it is, we had a vague report of such a transaction ; and we 
had also an account, from private persons, that the report was 
confirmed at Albany : but General Grates has never done us the 
honor to make us acquainted with his intelligence upon that 
subject ; and therefore I was not really warranted to say any 
thing about it. Apropos, I shall lose two beaver hats if our 
troops are not in possession of New- York by the first day of 
July next. If the enemy expect reinforcements, prudence will 
dictate to us to do something offensive as soon as possible. 
Would it not be prudent to make several attacks at the same 


time? For instance, about Hackensack, Bergen, or wherever 
else the enemy are in that quarter: upon Brunswick, by 
way of Eound Brook, Bonumtown, and from the southward: 
upon Fort Independence in Westchester county, or against Har- 
laem : and upon Long Island, by throwing over some of the east 
ern troops. If only one should prove successful, it would give 
splendor to our arms, and dismay the enemy. But our num 
bers, &c., &c., must govern these things. Howe certainly cannot 
mean to come this way, unless he is considerably reinforced. 
He will, unless he is to act on the defensive. I hope that our 
Generals are very busy fortifying the passes in the Highlands. 
I fear we shall destroy many men by it when the weather grows 
warm. Much fatigue prevents that attention to cleanliness 
which is essential to the health of soldiery. Soldiers should, in 
my opinion, be as much exercised in the use of arms, and the 
various evolutions, as is necessary to preserve their bodies in a 
state of strength and elasticity. The rest of their time may be 
usefully employed in the care of their clothes, and collecting 
refreshments. I seriously believe, that if two armies of thirty 
thousand men each, were to take the field in May, and the one 
be employed in building fortifications for three months, which 
the other should storm at the expiration of that term ; the odds 
would be in favor of the assailants, that the campaign would not 
cost them as many as the enemy. But a truce to idle specula 
tion. Be pleased to direct your next letter to Eobert K. 
Livingston and Christopher Tapin, Esqrs., as I shall not myself 
be in the way to receive it. We have no news here but this, 
that the tories are much humbled, and will, I believe, be more 

Adieu. Yours, 

Gouv. MOEEIS. 
Col. Hamilton. 

30 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [-fflr. 20. 




Your favor of the eighteenth, from Saratoga, reached me 
yesterday. Your pronouncing Fort Edward, among the other 
forts, indefensible, surprises me a little, as it is entirely contrary 
to the representations of several gentlemen of judgment, who 
have had an opportunity of seeing and considering its situation ; 
by whom we have been taught to believe that it would be an 
excellent post, at least for checking and retarding Burgoyne's 
progress. I agree with you that our principal strength in the 
quarter you are, will be in the forests and natural strength of 
the country, and in the want of forage, provisions, carriages, &c., 
in which the enemy may easily be thrown, by taking away what 
there are of those articles, which, you observe, have never been 
in great abundance. 

I am doubtful whether Burgoyne will attempt to penetrate 
far, and whether he will not content himself with harassing our 
back settlements by parties assisted by the savages, who, it is to 
be feared, will pretty generally be tempted, by the enemy's late 
successes, to confederate in hostilities against us. 

This doubt arises from some appearances that indicate a 
southern movement of General Howe's army, which, if it should 
really happen, will certainly be a barrier against any further 
impressions of Burgoyne ; for it cannot be supposed he would be 
rash enough to plunge into the bosom of the country without an 
expectation of being met by General Howe. Things must prove 
very adverse to us indeed, should he make such an attempt and 
not le ruined ly it. I confess, however, that the appearances I 
allude to do not carry a full evidence in my mind ; because they 
are opposed by others of a contradictory kind ; and because I 
cannot conceive upon what principle of common sense, or mili 
tary propriety, Howe can be running away from Burgoyne to 
the southward. 

It is much to be wished he may, even though it should give 


him the possession of Philadelphia, which by our remoteness 
from it, may very well happen. In this case, we may not only, 
if we think proper, retaliate, by aiming a stroke at New- York ; 
but we may come upon him with the greatest part of our collec 
tive force, to act against that part which is under him. We shall 
then be certain that Burgoyne cannot proceed, and that a small 
force of continental troops will be sufficient for that partisan war 
which he must carry on the rest of the campaign. 

A small force will also be sufficient to garrison the posts in 
the Highlands, and prevent any danger there ; so that we shall 
be able to bring nearly the whole of the continental army against 
Mr. Howe. The advantages of this are obvious. Should he be 
satisfied with the splendor of his acquisition, and shut himself up 
in Philadelphia, we can ruin him by confinement. Should he 
leave a garrison there, and go forward, we can either fall upon 
that or his main body, diminished as it will be by such a measure, 
with our whole force. There will, however, be many disagree 
able consequences attending such an event ; amongst which, the 
foremost is, the depreciation of our currency, which, from the im 
portance in which Philadelphia is held, cannot fail to ensue. 
I am, dear Sir, 

Your most obedient servant, 



* * * This event [the evacuation of Ticonderoga*] , re 
dounds very little to our credit. For if the post was untenable, 
or required a larger number of troops to defend it than could be 
spared for the purpose, it ought long ago to have been foreseen 
and given up. Instead of that, we have kept a large quantity of 
cannon in it, and have been heaping up very valuable magazines 
of stores and provisions, that, in the critical moment of defence, 

* July 5, 1777. 


are abandoned and lost. This affair will be attended with seve 
ral evil consequences ; for besides the loss of our stores, which 
we cannot well afford, it opens a new and easy door by which to 
penetrate the northern States. It will fix the hitherto fluctuating 
disposition of the Indians in that quarter in their favor, and 
expose the frontiers of the adjacent country to their depredations. 
But though it is a misfortune we have reason to lament, I dare 
say it will be regarded with you as much more important than it 
really is, and as materially endangering the success of our cause, 
which is by no means the case. Our opposition is at this time 
too well matured, and has too great stability, to be shaken by an 
accident of that kind. While we have a respectable army in the 
field, and resources to feed, clothe, and arm them, we are safe. 
We have had a force sufficient for the foregoing part of the cam 
paign, to maintain such a superiority over the main army of the 
enemy as effectually to hinder them from attaining any of their 
purposes. And, to the northward, with the reinforcements sent 
up to succor the retreating garrison of Ticonderoga, and the 
militia flocking in from New England, I think there is little 
doubt we have by this time a force adequate to give Mr. Bur- 
goyne a seasonable check. One good effect will result from the 
misfortune, which is, that it will stimulate the eastern States to 
greater exertions than they might otherwise make. 

By our last advices, the enemy were in possession of all the 
country between Ticonderoga and Fort George ; and our army, 
nearly equal in number to them, were about to take post some 
where between Fort Edward and Saratoga. 

The consequences of this northern affair will depend much 
upon the part that Howe acts. If he were to co-operate with 
Burgoyne, it would demand our utmost efforts to counteract 
them. But if he should go towards the southward, all or most 
of the advantages of Burgoyne's success will be lost. He will 
either be obliged to content himself with the possession of Ticon 
deroga, and the dependent fortresses, and with carrying on a 
partisan war the rest of the campaign ; or he must precipitate 
himself into certain ruin, by attempting to advance into the 
country with a very incompetent force. 


Appearances lead us to suppose that Howe is fool enough to 
meditate a southern expedition ; for he has now altered his sta 
tion at Staten Island, mentioned above, and has fallen down to 
the Hook. Judging it morally certain that there would be a co 
operation of the two armies, we thought it expedient to march 
northerly ; and had accordingly reached within fourteen miles of 
New Windsor, the place where we could cross the North River 
without danger or interruption. But this new movement of the 
enemy's fleet, has induced us to return a few miles, and make a 
disposition for marching southerly. We shall, however, be cau 
tious how we proceed on that course, lest nothing more than a 
feint is intended, to divert us from the real object. 

If they go to the southward in earnest, they must have the 
capture of Philadelphia in view ; for there is no other induce 
ment. We shall endeavor to get there in time to oppose them ; 
and shall have the principal part of the continental force, and a 
large body of spirited militia, many of them, from their services 
during the last campaign, pretty well inured to arms, to make 
the opposition with. Yet I would not have you to be much 
surprised if Philadelphia should fall ; for the enemy will doubt 
less go there with a determination to succeed at all hazard ; and 
we shall not be able to prevent them, without risking a general 
action, the expediency of which will depend upon circumstances. 
If the militia turn out with that zeal we have a right to expect, 
from their conduct when the enemy made their last experiment 
in the Jersies, and were supposed to be going to Philadelphia, 
we may do it without much inconvenience. If they fall mate 
rially short of it, we shall be obliged to confine ourselves to a 
skirmishing opposition, which we cannot expect will be effec 
tual. It may be asked, If, to avoid a general engagement, we 
give up objects of the first importance, what is to hinder the 
enemy from carrying every important point, and ruining us? 
My answer is, that our hopes are not placed in any particular 
city or spot of ground, but in the preserving a good army, fur 
nished with proper necessaries, to take advantage of favorable 
opportunities, and waste and defeat the enemy by piecemeal. 
Every new post they take, requires a new division of their 

VOL. i. 3 


forces, and enables us to strike with our united force against a 
part of theirs : and such is their present situation, that another 
Trenton affair will amount to a complete victory on our part ; for 
they are at too low an ebb to bear another stroke of the kind. 
Perhaps, before I may have an opportunity of sending this, facts 
will unfold what I am now endeavoring to anticipate by con 

You will expect some animadversions on the temper and 
views of the French nation. I presume you are nearly as well 
acquainted with the assistance they are giving us as I am, both 
by their intrigues in foreign courts, and by supplies of every 
kind of warlike stores and apparatus. 

It does not admit of a doubt that they are interested to wish 
us success ; . and their conduct plainly shows, they are willing to 
give us every aid essential to our preservation. But it is natural 
they should desire to do it with as much convenience to them 
selves as they can. I apprehend they are not over fond of 
plunging themselves into a war with England if they can avoid 
it, and still answer the end they have to pursue : and, indeed, 
from the evident reluctance shown on the part of the latter, to 
do any thing that may bring about such an event, it becomes 
extremely difficult to draw her into it. The conclusion we may 
make, is, that France will not wish to force England into a war, 
unless she finds our affairs require it absolutely ; and England 
will not enter into one, till she is compelled to do it. 

My best respects to all friends ; and I beg you will believe 
me to be, with unabated regard, 

Dear Sir, 

Your most obedient servant, 


Sept, 18, 1777. 

If Congress have not left Philadelphia, they ought to do 
it immediately without fail ; for the enemy have the means of 


throwing a party this night into the city. I just now passed the 
Valley Ford in doing which a party of the enemy came down 
and fired upon us in the boat, by which means I lost my horse 
one man was killed, and another wounded. The boats were 
abandoned, and will fall into their hands. I did all I could to 
prevent this, but to no purpose. 

I have the honor to be, 
With much respect, 

Sir, your most obedient servant, 

To Hon. John Hancock. 


September 18, 1777, 9 o'clock at night. 

I did myself the honor to write you a hasty line this evening, 
giving it as my opinion, that the city was no longer a place of 
safety for you. I write you again, lest that letter should not 
get to hand. The enemy are on the road to Swedes Ford, the 
main body about four miles from it. They sent a party this 
evening to Daviser's ferry, which fired upon me and some others 
in crossing it, killed one man, wounded another, and disabled 
my horse. 

They came on so suddenly, that one boat was left adrift on 
the other side, which will of course fall into their hands ; and, 
by the help of that, they will get possession of another, which 
was abandoned by those who had the direction of it, and left 
afloat, in spite of every thing that I could do to the contrary. 
These two boats will convey fifty men across at a time, so that 
in a few hours they may throw over a large party, perhaps suf 
ficient to overmatch the militia who may be between them and 
the city. This renders the situation of Congress extremely pre 
carious, if they are not on their guard: my apprehensions for 
them are great, though it is not improbable they may not be 

36 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [Mi. 20. 

The most cogent reasons oblige me to join the army this night, 
or I should have waited upon you myself. I am in hopes our 
army will be up with the enemy before they pass Schuylkill : if 
they are, something serious will ensue. 

I have the honor to be, 

With much respect, 

Sir, your most obedient, 



PHILADELPHIA, 22d September, 1777. 


I left camp last evening, and came to this city to superintend 
the collection of blankets and clothing for the army. Mr. Lovell 
sends to inform me there is an express going off to Congress ; 
and I do myself the honor to communicate a brief state of things 
when I left camp. The enemy moved yesterday, from where 
they lay opposite to Valley Forge, &c., higher up the river, on 
their old scheme of gaining our right. I don't know precisely 
where they halted ; but our army was preparing to move up also, 
to counteract them. 

I am this morning told, they marched about twelve o'clock at 
night for that purpose. The general opinion was, that the ene 
my would attempt crossing this day : every appearance justified 
the supposition. 

We had intelligence that the enemy had, the night before 
last, surprised Generals Smallwood and Wayne, and consequently 
dispersed them, after a small 'opposition. The loss, it is said, 
was not great: and our troops were re-assembling fast at the 
Ked Lion. This seems to have been a bad look out, and is 
somewhat disconcerting. 

By a letter from General McDougal, received this morning, it 
appears he was, on the twentieth, in the morning, at Second 
Eiver, just setting out on his march toward Woodbridge. He is 


pressing forward with all possible expedition. The troops were 
pretty well refreshed, and in good spirits. 

I have, &c., 





It having been judged expedient by the members of a council 
of war, held yesterday, that one of the gentlemen of my family 
should be sent to General Gates, in order to lay before him the 
state of this army, and the situation of the enemy ; and to point 
out to him the many happy consequences that will accrue from 
an immediate reinforcement being sent from the northern army ; 
I have thought it proper to appoint you to that duty, and desire 
that you will immediately set out for Albany ; at which place, or 
in the neighborhood, I imagine you will find General Gates. 

You are so fully acquainted with the principal points on 
which you are sent, namely, the state of our army, and the situ 
ation of the enemy, that I shall not enlarge on those heads. 
What you are chiefly to attend to, is to point out, in the clearest 
and fullest manner, to General Gatels, the absolute necessity that 
there is for his detaching a very considerable part of the army at 
present under his command, to the reinforcement of this ; a mea 
sure that will, in all probability, reduce General Howe to the 
same situation in which General Burgoyne now is, should he 
attempt to remain in Philadelphia without being able to remove 
the obstructions in the Delaware, and open a free communication 
with his shipping. The force which the members of the council 
of war judge it safe and expedient to draw down at present, are 
the three New Hampshire and fifteen Massachusetts regiments, 
with Lee's and Jackson's two of the sixteen, additional. But it 
is more than probable that General Gates may have detained 
part of those troops to the reduction of Ticonderoga, should the 


enemy not have evacuated it ; or to the garrisoning it. If they 
should, in that case the reinforcement will be according to cir 
cumstances ; but, if possible, let it be made up to the same num 
ber out of other corps. If, upon your meeting with General 
Gates, you should find that he intends, in consequence of his 
success, to employ the troops under his command upon some 
expedition, by the prosecution of which the common cause will 
be more benefited than by their being sent down to reinforce 
this army, it is not my wish to give any interruption to the plan. 
But if he should have nothing more in contemplation than those 
particular objects which I have mentioned to you, and which it 
is unnecessary to commit to paper ; in that case you are to inform 
him, that it is my desire that the reinforcements before mentioned, 
or such parts of them as can be safely spared, be immediately put 
in motion to join the army. 

I have understood that General Gates has already detached 
Nixon's and Glover's brigades to join General Putnam; and 
General Dickinson informs me, Sir Henry Clinton has come 
down the river with his whole force : if this be a fact, you are to 
desire General Putnam to send the two brigades forward with 
the greatest expedition, as there can be no occasion for them 

I expect you will meet Colonel Morgan's corps upon their 
way down : if you do, let them know how essential their services 
are to us ; and desire the Colonel or commanding officer, to has 
ten their march as much as is consistent with the health of the 
men after their late fatigues. G. W. 

P. S. I ordered the detachment belonging to General Mc- 
Dougal's division to come forward. If you meet them, direct 
those belonging to Greene's, Angel's, Chandler's, and Duryee's 
regiments, not to cross Delaware, but to proceed to Ked Bank. 



FISHKILL, Nov. 2, 1777. 


I lodged last night in the neighborhood of New Windsor. 
This morning early I met Colonel Morgan with his corps, about 
a mile from it, in march for head quarters. I told him the neces 
sity of making all the dispatch he could, so as not to fatigue his 
men too much, which he has promised to do. 

I understood from Colonel Morgan, that all the northern 
army were marching down on both sides the river, and would, 
probably, be to-morrow at New Windsor and this place ; and 
that General Putnam had held a council for the general disposi 
tion of them, in which it was resolved to send you four thousand 
men, and to keep the rest on this side the river. I came here in 
expectation that matters were in such a train as to enable me to 
accomplish my errand without going any further, unless it should 
be to hasten the troops that were on their march : but on my 
arrival, I learned from Mr. Hughes, an Aid-de-Camp of General 
Gates, that the following disposition of the northern army had 
taken place. 

General Patterson's, Glover's, and Nixon's brigades, and 
Colonel Warner's mountain boys, to remain in and about Albany : 
barracks building for them. General Poor's brigade, marching 
down this side of the river to join General Putnam, will be here 
probably to-morrow. General Learned's brigade, Morgan's corps, 
Warner's brigade of Massachusetts militia, and some regiments 
of New- York militia, on their march on the west side of the 

I have directed General Putnam, in your name, to send for 
ward, with all dispatch, to join you, the two continental bri 
gades, and Warner's militia brigade : this last is to serve till the 
latter end of this month. Your instructions did not comprehend 
any militia : but as there are certain accounts here, that most of 
the troops from New- York are gone to reinforce General Howe ; 
and as so large a proportion of continental troops have been de- 


tained at Albany ; I concluded you would not disapprove of a 
measure calculated to strengthen you, though but for a small 
time, and have ventured to adopt it on that presumption. 

Being informed by General Putnam, that General Wynds, 
with seven hundred Jersey militia, was at King's Ferry, with in 
tention to cross to Peekskill, I prevailed upon him to relinquish 
that idea, and send off an immediate order for them to march 
towards Eed Bank. It is possible, however, unless your Excel 
lency supports this order by an application from yourself, he 
may march his men home, instead of marching them to the place 
he has been directed to repair to. 

Neither Lee's, Jackson's regiments, nor the detachments be 
longing to General McDougal's division, have yet marched. I 
have urged their being sent ; and an order has been dispatched 
for their instantly proceeding. Colonel Hughes is pressing some 
fresh horses for me. The moment they are ready, I shall recross 
the river, in order to fall in with the troops on the other side, 
and make all the haste I can to Albany, to get the three brigades 
there sent forward. 

Will your Excellency permit me to observe, that I have some 
doubts, under present circumstances and appearances, of the pro 
priety of leaving the regiments proposed to be left in this quar 
ter? But if my doubts on this subject were stronger than they 
are, I am forbid, by the sense of council, from interfering in the 

General Poor's brigade is just arrived here : they will pro 
ceed to join you with all expedition. So strongly am I im 
pressed with the importance of endeavoring to crush Mr. Howe, 
that I am apt to think it would be advisable to draw off all the 
continental troops. Had this been determined on, General War 
ner's sixteen hundred militia might have been left here. 
I have the honor to be, 

With the warmest esteem and respect, 
Your Excellency's most obedient servant, 




ALBANY, November, 1777. 


I arrived here yesterday at noon, and waited upon General 
Gates immediately, on the business of my mission ; but was sorry 
to find that his ideas did not correspond with yours, for drawing 
off the number of troops you directed. I used every argument 
in my power, to convince him of the propriety of the measure ; 
but he was inflexible in the opinion, that two brigades, at least, 
of continental troops, should remain in and near this place. His 
reasons were, that the intelligence of Sir Henry Clinton's having 
gone to join Howe, was not sufficiently authenticated to put it 
out of doubt ; that there was, therefore, a possibility of his re 
turning up the river, which might expose the finest arsenal in 
America (as he calls the one here) to destruction, should this 
place be left so bare of troops as I proposed ; and that the want 
of conveniencies, and the difficulty of the roads, would make it 
impossible to remove artillery and stores for a considerable time ; 
that the New England States would be left open to the depreda 
tions and ravages of the enemy ; that it would put it out of his 
power to enterprise any thing against Ticonderoga, which he 
thinks might be done in the winter, and which he considers it of 
importance to undertake. 

The force of these reasons did by no means strike me ; and I 
did every thing in my power to show they were unsubstantial : 
but all I could effect, was to have one brigade dispatched, in ad 
dition to those already marched. I found myself infinitely em 
barrassed, and was at a loss how to act. I felt the importance 
of strengthening you as much as possible: but, on the other 
hand, I found insuperable inconveniences, in acting diametri 
cally opposite to the opinion of a gentleman, whose successes 
have raised him to the highest importance. General Gates has 
won the entire confidence of the Eastern States. If disposed to 
do it, by addressing himself to the prejudices of the people, he 
would find no difficulty to render a measure odious, which it 

42 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [^T. 20. 

might be said, with, plausibility enough to be believed, was cal 
culated to expose them to unnecessary dangers, notwithstanding 
their exertions, during the campaign, had given them the fullest 
title to repose and security. General Grates has influence and inter 
est elsewhere : he might use it, if he pleased, to discredit the mea 
sure there also. On the whole, it appeared to me dangerous, 
to insist on sending more troops from hence, while General Gates 
appeared so warmly opposed to it. Should any accident, or in 
convenience, happen in consequence of it, there would be too 
fair a pretext for censure : and many people are too well dis 
posed to lay hold of it. At any rate, it might be considered as 
using him ill, to take a step so contrary to his judgment, in a 
case of this nature. These considerations, and others which I 
shall be more explicit in when I have the pleasure of seeing you, 
determined me not to insist upon sending either of the other 
brigades remaining here. I am afraid what I have done, may 
not meet with your approbation, as not being perhaps fully 
warranted by your instructions : but I ventured to do what I 
thought right, hoping that, at least, the goodness of my intention 
will excuse the error of my judgment. 

I was induced to this relaxation the more readily, as I had 
directed to be sent on, two thousand militia, which were not ex 
pected by you ; and a thousand continental troops out of those 
proposed to be left with General Putnam, which I have written 
to him, since I found how matters were circumstanced here, to 
forward to you with all dispatch. I did this for several rea 
sons: because your reinforcement would be more expeditious 
from that place than from this : because two thousand continen 
tal troops at Peekskill will not be wanted in its present circum 
stances ; especially as it was really necessary to have a body of 
continental troops at this place, for the security of the valuable 
stores here : and I should not, if I had my wish, think it expedi 
ent to draw off more than two of the three brigades now here. 
This being the case, one of the ends you proposed to be an 
swered, by leaving the ten regiments with General Putnam, will 
be equally answered by the troops here ; I mean that of cover 
ing and fortifying the Eastern States : and one thousand conti- 


nental troops in addition to the militia collected, and that may 
be collected, here, will be sufficient, in the Highlands, for cover 
ing the country down that way, and carrying on the works ne 
cessary to be raised for the defence of the river. 

The troops gone, and going, to reinforce you, are near five 
thousand rank and file, continental troops; and two thousand 
five hundred Massachusetts and New Hampshire militia. These 
and the seven hundred Jersey militia, will be a larger reinforce 
ment than you expected, though not quite an equal number of 
continental troops ; nor exactly in the way directed. General 
Lincoln tells me, the militia are very excellent; and though 
their time will be out by the last of this month, you will be able, 
if you think proper, to order the troops still remaining here, to 
join you by the time their term of service expires. 

I cannot forbear being uneasy, lest my conduct should prove 
displeasing to you : but I have done what, considering all cir 
cumstances, appeared to me most eligible and prudent. 

Vessels are preparing to carry the brigade to New Windsor, 
which will embark this evening. I shall, this afternoon, set out 
on iny return to camp ; and on my way, shall endeavor to hasten 
the troops forward. 

I have the honor to be, 

With great esteem and respect, 
Your Excellency's most ob't, 



ALBANY, November 5, 1777. 


By inquiry, I have learned that General Patterson's brigade, 
which is the one you propose to send, is by far the weakest of 
the three now here, and does not consist of more than about six 
hundred rank and file fit for duty. It is true, that there is a 
militia regiment with it of about two hundred ; but the time of 
service for which this regiment is engaged, is so near expiring, 

44 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [^T. 20. 

that it would be past by the time the men could arrive at their 

Under these circumstances, I cannot consider it either as 
compatible with the good of the service, or m j instructions from 
His Excellency General Washington, to consent that that bri 
gade be selected from the three to go to him ; but I am under the 
necessity of desiring, by virtue of my orders from him, that one 
of the others be substituted instead of this ; either General Nix 
on's, or General Glover's ; and that you will be pleased to give 
immediate orders for its embarkation. 

Knowing that General Washington wished me to pay the 
greatest deference to your judgment, I ventured so far to deviate 
from the instructions he gave me, as to consent, in compliance 
with your opinion, that two brigades should remain here instead 
of one. At the same time permit me to observe, that I am not 
myself sensible of the expediency of keeping more than one, 
with the detached regiments in the neighborhood of this place ; 
and that my ideas coincide with those gentlemen whom I have 
consulted on the occasion, whose judgment I have much more 
reliance upon than on my own, and who must be supposed to 
have a thorough knowledge of all the circumstances. Their 
opinion is, that one brigade, and the regiments before mentioned, 
would amply answer the purposes of this post. When I prefer 
red your opinion to other considerations, I did not imagine you 
would pitch upon a brigade little more than half as large as the 
others : and finding this to be the case, I indispensably owe it to 
my duty, to desire, in His Excellency's name, that another may 
go instead of the one intended, and without loss of time. As it 
may be conducive to dispatch, to send Glover's brigade, if agree 
able to you, you will give orders accordingly. 
I have the honor to be, 

With real respect and esteem, 

Sir, your most obedient servant, 


General Gates. 



NEW WINDSOR, November 10th, 1777. 


I arrived here last night from Albany. Having given Gen 
eral Gates a little time to recollect himself, I renewed my re 
monstrances on the necessity and propriety of sending you more 
than one brigade of the three he had detained with him ; and 
finally prevailed upon him to give orders for Glover's in addi 
tion to Patterson's brigade, to march this way. 

As it was thought conducive to expedition, to send the troops 
by water, as far as it could be done, I procured all the vessels 
that could be had at Albany, fit for the purpose ; but could not 
get more than sufficient to take Patterson's brigade. It was 
embarked the seventh instant ; but the wind has been contrary : 
they must probably be here to-day. General Glover's brigade 
marched at the same time, on the east side of the river, the roads 
being much better than on this side. I am at this moment in 
formed, that one sloop, with a part of Patterson's, has arrived, 
and that the others are in sight. They will immediately proceed, 
by water, to King's Ferry, and thence take the shortest route. 

I am pained beyond expression to inform your Excellency, 
that on my arrival here, I find every thing has been neglected 
and deranged by General Putnam ; and that the two brigades, 
Poor's and Learned's, still remain here and on the other side of 
the river at Fishkill. Colonel Warner's militia, I am told, have 
been drawn to Peekskill, to aid in an expedition against New- 
York, which, it seems, is, at this time, the hobby-horse with 
General Putnam. Not the least attention has been paid to my 
order, in your name, for a detachment of one thousand men 
from the troops hitherto stationed at this post. Every thing is 
sacrificed to the whim of taking New- York. 

The two brigades of Poor and Learned, it appears, would 
not march for want of money and necessaries ; several of the 
regiments having received no pay for six or eight months past. 
There has been a high mutiny among the former on this account, 

46 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [-fix. 20. 

in which a captain killed a man, and was himself shot by his 
comrade. These difficulties, for want of proper management, 
have stopped the troops from proceeding. Governor Clinton 
has been the only man who has done any thing towards remov 
ing them ; but for want of General Putnam's co-operation, has 
not been able to effect it. He has only been able to prevail with 
Learned's brigade, to agree to march to Goshen ; in hopes, by 
getting them once on the go, to induce them to continue their 
march. On coming here, I immediately sent for Colonel Bailey, 
who now commands Learned's brigade, and persuaded him to 
engage to carry the brigade on to head quarters as fast as possi 
ble. This he expects to effect by means of five or six thousand 
dollars, which Governor Clinton was kind enough to borrow for 
me, and which Colonel Bailey thinks will keep the men in good 
humor till they join you. They marched this morning towards 

I shall, as soon as possible, see General Poor, and do every 
thing in my power to get him along ; and hope I shall be able 
to succeed. 

The plan I before laid, having been totally deranged, a new 
one has become necessary. It is now too late to send Warner's 
militia; by the time they reached you, their term of service 
would be out. The motive for sending them, which was to give 
you a speedy reinforcement, has, by the past delay, been super 

By Governor Clinton's advice, I have sent an order, in the 
most emphatical terms, to General Putnam, immediately to dis 
patch all the continental troops under him to your assistance ; 
and to detain the militia instead of them. 

My opinion is, that the only present use for troops in this 
quarter, is, to protect the country from the depredations of little 
plundering parties ; and for carrying on the works necessary for 
the defence of the river. Nothing more ought to be thought of. 
'Tis only wasting time, and misapplying men, to employ them in 
a suicidal parade against New- York : for in this it will undoubt 
edly terminate. New- York is no object, if it could be taken : 
and to take it, would require more men than could be spared 


from more substantial purposes. Governor Clinton's ideas coin- 
cide with mine. He thinks that there is no need of more conti 
nental troops here, than a few to give a spur to the militia in 
working upon the fortifications. In pursuance of this, I have 
given the directions before mentioned. If General Putnam at 
tends to them, the troops under him may be with you nearly as 
early as any of the others (though he has, unluckily, marched 
them down to Tarrytown) ; and General Glover's brigade, when 
it gets up, will be more than sufficient to answer the true end of 
this post. 

If your Excellency agrees with me in opinion, it will be well 
to send instant directions to General Putnam, to pursue the 
object I have mentioned: for I doubt whether he will attend to 
any thing I shall say, notwithstanding it comes in the shape of 
a positive order. I fear, unless you interpose, the works here 
will go on so feebly, for want of men, that they will not be com 
pleted in time : whereas, it appears to me of the greatest im 
portance they should be pushed with the utmost vigor. Gover 
nor Clinton will do every thing in his power. I wish General 
Putnam was recalled from the command of this post, and Gov 
ernor Clinton would accept it : the blunders and caprices of the 
former are endless. Believe me, Sir, nobody can be more im 
pressed with the importance of forwarding the reinforcements 
coming to you, with all speed ; nor could any body have endea 
vored to promote it more than I have done : but the ignorance of 
some, and the design of others, have been almost insuperable 
obstacles. I am very unwell ; but I shall not spare myself to 
get things immediately in a proper train ; and for that purpose 
intend, unless I receive other orders from you, to continue with 
the troops in the progress of their march. As soon as I get 
General Poor's brigade in march, I shall proceed to General 
Putnam's at Peekskill. 

I have, &c., 

His Excellency, General Washington. 

48 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [Mi. 20. 


NEW WINDSOR, November 12, 1777. 


I have been detained here these two days by a fever, and 
violent rheumatic pains throughout my body. This has pre 
vented my being active, in person, for promoting the purposes of 
my errand ; but I have taken every other method in my power, 
in which Governor Clinton has obligingly given me all the aid he 
could. In answer to my pressing application to General Poor, 
for the immediate marching of his brigade, I was told they were 
under an operation for the itch ; which made it impossible for 
them to proceed till the effects of it were over. By a letter, 
however, of yesterday, General Poor informs me, he would 
certainly march this morning. I must do him the justice to say, 
he appears solicitous to join you; and that I believe the past 
delay is not owing to any fault of his, but is wholly chargeable 
on General Putnam. Indeed, Sir, I owe it to the service to say, 
that every part of this gentleman's conduct is marked with 
blunder and negligence, and gives general disgust. 

Parsons' brigade will join you, I hope, in five or six days 
from this. Learned's may do the same. Poor's will, I am per 
suaded, make all the haste they can for the future. And Glover's 
may be expected at Fishkill to-night ; whence they will be 
pressed forward as fast as I can have any influence to make 
them go. But I am sorry to say, the disposition for marching, 
in the officers and men in general, of these troops, does not keep 
pace with my wishes, or the exigency of the occasion. They 
have, unfortunately, imbibed an idea, that they have done their 
part of the business of the campaign, and are now entitled to 
repose. This, and the want of pay, make them averse to a long 
march at this advanced season. 

* * * In a letter from General Putnam, just now received by 
Governor Clinton, he appears to have been, the 10th instant, at 
King's Street, at the "White Plains. I have had no answer to 
my last applications. The enemy appear to have stripped New- 


York very bare. The people there, that is, the tories, are in a 
great fright : this adds to my anxiety, that the reinforcements 
from this quarter to you are not in greater forwardness and more 

I have written to General Gates, informing him of the ac 
counts of the situation of New- York with respect to troops, and 
the probability of the force gone to Howe being greater than was 
at first expected ; to try if this will not extort from him a further 
reinforcement. I don't, however, expect much from him ; as he 
pretends to have in view an expedition against Ticonderoga, to 
be undertaken in the winter: and he knows that, under the 
sanction of this idea, calculated to catch the eastern people, he 
may, without censure, retain the troops. And as I shall be 
under a necessity of speaking plainly to your Excellency, when 
I have the pleasure of seeing you, I shall not hesitate to say, I 
doubt whether you would have had a man from the northern 
army, if the whole could have been kept at Albany with any 
decency. Perhaps you will think me blamable in not having 
exercised the powers you gave me, and given a positive order. 
Perhaps I have been so : but, deliberately weighing all circum 
stances, I did not, and do not, think it advisable to do it. 
I have the honor to be, 

With unfeigned esteem and regard, 

Your Excellency's most ob't servant, 

His Excellency General Washington. 


FISHKILL, November 12, 1777. 


Ever since my arrival in this quarter, I have been endeavor 
ing to collect the best idea I could of the state of things in New- 
York, in order the better to form a judgment of the probable 
reinforcement gone to General Howe. On the whole, this is a 
fact well ascertained, that New-York has been stripped as bare 
VOL. i. 4 

50 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [-fir. 20. 

as possible : that in consequence of this, the few troops there, and 
the inhabitants, are under so strong apprehensions of an attack, 
as almost to amount to a panic ; that to supply the deficiency of 
men, every effort is making to excite the citizens to arms for the 
defence of the city. For this purpose, the public papers are full 
of addresses to them, that plainly speak the apprehensions pre 
vailing on the occasion. 

Hence I infer, that a formidable force is gone to General 
Howe. The calculations made by those who have had the best 
opportunities of judging, carry the number from six to seven 
thousand. If so, the number gone, and going, to General Wash 
ington, is far inferior ; five thousand at the utmost. The militia 
were all detained by General Putnam till it became too late to 
send them. 

The state of things I gave you when I had the pleasure of 
seeing you, was, to the best of my knowledge, sacredly true. I 
give you the present information, that you may decide, whether 
any further succor can with propriety come from you. 

The fleet, with the troops on board, sailed out of the Hook 
on the fifth instant. This circumstance demonstrates, beyond the 
possibility of doubt, that it is General Howe's fixed intention to 
endeavor to hold Philadelphia at all hazards ; and removes all 
danger of any further operations up the North River this winter. 
Otherwise, Sir Henry Clinton's movement, at this advanced sea 
son, is altogether inexplicable. 

If you can with propriety afford any further assistance, the 
most expeditious manner of conveying it will be to acquaint 
General Putnam of it, that he may send on the troops with him, 
to be replaced by them. You, Sir, best know the uses to which 
the troops with you are to be applied, and will determine accord 
ingly. I am certain it is not His Excellency's wish to frustrate 
any plan you may have in view for the benefit of the service, so 
far as it can possibly be avoided, consistent with a due attention 
to more important objects. 

I am, with respect, Sir, 

Your most obedient servant, 

To General Gates. 



PEEKSKILL, Nov. 15, 1777. 


I arrived at this place last night, and unfortunately find my 
self unable to proceed any further. Imagining I had gotten the 
better of my complaint, which confined me at Governor Clinton's, 
and anxious to be about attending to the march of the troops, the 
day before yesterday I crossed the ferry, in order to fall in with 
General Glover's brigade, which was on its march from Pough- 
keepsie to Fishkill. I did not, however, see it myself, but 
received a letter from Colonel Shepherd, who commands the 
frigate, informing me he would be last night at Fishkill, and this 
night at King's ferry. Wagons, &c., are provided on the other 
side for his accommodation ; so that there need be no delay but 
what is voluntary ; and I believe Colonel Shepherd is as well 
disposed as could be wished to hasten his march. General Poor's 
brigade crossed the ferry the day before yesterday. Two York 
regiments, Courtland's and Livingston's, are with them: they 
were unwilling to be separated from the brigade, and the brigade 
from them. General Putnam was unwilling to keep them with 
him : and if he had consented to do it, the regiments to displace 
them would not join you six days as soon as these. The troops 
now remaining with General Putnam will amount to about the 
number you intended, though they are not exactly the same. 
He has detached Colonel Charles Webb's regiment to you. He 
says the troops with him are not in a condition to march, being 
destitute of shoes, stockings, and other necessaries : but I believe 
the true reasons of his being unwilling to pursue the mode 
pointed out by you, were his aversion to the York troops, and 
his desire to retain General Parsons with him. 

I am, with much respect and esteem, 
Your Excellency's most ob't serv't, 


To General Washington. 

52 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [Mr. 20. 


HEAD-QUARTERS, November 15, 1777. 


I have duly received your several favors, from the time you 
left me to that of the twelfth instant. I approve entirely of all 
the steps you have taken ; and have only to wish, that the ex 
ertions of those you have had to deal with, had kept pace with 
your zeal and good intentions. I hope your health will, before 
this, have permitted you to push on the rear of the whole rein 
forcement beyond New Windsor. Some of the enemy's ships 
have arrived in the Delaware ; but how many have troops on 
board, I cannot exactly ascertain. The enemy have lately dam 
aged Fort Miflin considerably : but our people keep possession, 
and seem determined to do so to the last extremity. Our loss in 
men has been but small. Captain Treat is unfortunately among 
the killed. I wish you a safe return, 

And am, dear Sir, 

Your most obedient servant, 


Lt. Col. Hamilton. 


ST. CROIX, December 10, 1777- 


The fine, impartial, laconic, and highly descriptive account 
you favored me with of the last year's campaign, in your letter 
of March last, excited in me, and many of your other friends 
here, an earnest desire of further accounts from your pen, of the 
succeeding fortunes of the Great American War : a war which 
will, one day, shine more illustriously in the historic page, than 
any which has happened since the times of ISTimrod and the 
Giants ; and deservedly, on account of the goodness of the cause, 
the grandeur of the object, the eclat of the Generals, the bravery 
of the troops and (alas ! that I should be obliged to add) of 


the cruelty and ferocity which has marked the route of your 
enemies ; and the tons of brothers' blood which have been shed 
on the unhappy occasion ! 

I wrote two answers to your obliging letter, both of which I 
hope have reached you ; and in both of which I have urged it 
upon you, to make and collect such memoirs as the urgency of 
your affairs will permit you ; which may furnish materials for 
an accurate history of the war, when you shall have leisure to 
fill up and embellish such a skeleton, with all that elegance and 
dignity of which your fine pen is capable. 

The honorable post you hold under the GEEAT General 
Washington, and so near his person, will give you a peculiar 
advantage for delineating his character, both in his amiable pri 
vate virtues, and military abilities. And depend upon it, the 
very minutiae of that incomparable man will be read with avidity 
by posterity. You know me too well, I hope, to suspect me of 
superstition ; yet I feel myself, at times, under a strong impulse 
to prophesy, that Washington was born for the deliverance of 
America that that Providence who has raised and trained him 
up for that very purpose, will watch over his scared life with a 
paternal and solicitous care ; will shield his head in every day of 
battle will give him to see America free, flourishing, and happy 
and will adorn his fame, among latest posterity, with a Garland of 
Laurel, more verdant, blooming, and enviable, than ever adorned 
the brow of a Marlborough ! 

The bearer of this line (if he should be indeed so fortunate 
as to put it into your hand) is our worthy friend, Mr. Cornelius 
Durant, who is possessed of an ardent desire of having the 
honor of a short interview with General Washington; princi 
pally, that he may have it to say, that he has seen and spoken 
to the greatest man of this Age : and, indeed, considering Mr. Du- 
rant's personal worth ; his uncommon zeal for, and attachment 
to, the American cause ; the losses he has sustained in attempt 
ing to assist her ; and his extraordinary admiration of, and love 
to, the General's character and person ; few men more richly 
merit this indulgence. If you still exist, and exist near the 
General's person (and I have not yet seen your name among the 


lists of the slain or the -Hisgraced), you can easily procure him 
this honor and I trust you will. 

We are now blessed with, and certified of, the glorious news 
of Burgoyne's surrender to the immortal GATES ; another bright 
star in the Constellation of American Heroes : and we are mo 
mently expecting to hear, that General "Washington has done 
something like the same by General Howe ! But we yet tremble 
in suspense and it is indeed a painful one. Probably before this 
letter goes, we shall hear more of the matter. Our general 
accounts are favorable : and while the Chevaux de frize are de 
fended, we have no fears about Philadelphia. May this cam 
paign decide the matter! 

By the time this reaches you, you will be (if you are at all) 
in winter quarters ; and perhaps may be at leisure to write me a 
half folio, of which Mr. Durant will take care to write me dupli 
cates or triplicates, for fear of miscarriage. 

A piece of mine, entitled " An Address to America, by a 
friend in a foreign government," has been sent to the Congress 
for publication (if approved). I know not yet its fate. It is, at 
least, an honestly designed and animating piece, but written 
incorrectly, and in a hurry. If you have seen it, pray give me 
your sentiments about it ; but let it be on a loose paper inclosed 
in your letter ; for the knowledge of my being the author must 
be a profound secret here. 

My wishes are, that the God of Armies may defend and 
protect you, and cause you happily to survive, and to hand down 
to posterity the present important scenes. Numbers here esteem 
you, and would join me in declaring themselves, as I do, 
Dear Hamilton, 

Your ever affectionate friend and servant, 




POUGHKEEPSIE, 28th December, 1777. 


I was favored with, the receipt of your letter of the 22d in 
stant, some days since, and returned a short answer to it by the 
express who brought it ; but as I have reason to believe you had 
left Peekskill before he got there, I conclude my letter has not 
been received. I have not a doubt but that there have been 
such unjust and dishonorable practices committed on the inhab 
itants as you mention ; nor have I reason to believe they were 
without the knowledge of the commanding officer of the Depart 
ment. Complaints have been exhibited to him of cattle, the 
property of the inhabitants of this State, living near Col. Kobin- 
son's, being drove off by parties of the continental troops, and 
sold at vendue in New England, without any account being ren 
dered to the proprietors ; and, if I am rightly informed, an 
officer with a party, took sundry articles from Kobinson's, sent 
them off and sold them in like manner in Connecticut, and has 
not accounted with the States for the proceeds. Of this I in 
formed General Putnam, and desired that an inquiry might be 
made into the conduct of the officer commanding the party, to 
which I was more particularly induced, as I found he had given 
an order on the Quarter-Master General for the payment of the 
teams employed in carrying off those effects ; but I have reason 
to believe he has had no regard to my request. Of this I am 
fully convinced, that the soldiery claim as lawful prize every 
thing they take within the enemy's lines, though the property of 
our best friends, and whatever is taken beyond our advanced 
posts, by a generous construction, comes within the above pre 
dicament. On this principle the several articles taken at and 
near Robinson's were sold because the enemy's shipping were 
then in the river near that place; and on the same principle 
indiscriminate plunder might have taken place on both sides of 
the river as high up as the manor of Livingston. Little good 
can be expected of an army whose interest it is to suffer a 


country to be abandoned to the enemy, thereby to justify plun 
dering the inhabitants. Perhaps, and I don't know that it would 
be uncharitable to suppose, that it is this trade that makes some 
people so very fond of little expeditions. 

I have long thought to ascertain these facts, and seek redress 
not only for the parties immediately injured, but the public; 
but my time has been so fully employed of late about other 
matters that I have been obliged to neglect it. 

x ###### 

May I expect a line from you whenever you have leisure ; 
be assured it will always be most kindly received, though per 
haps not quite so punctually answered by 

Your most obedient servant, 

My respects to Capt. Gibbs and young Livingston. 




I take the liberty to trouble you with a few hints on a matter 
of some importance. Baron Steuben, who will be the bearer of 
this, waits on Congress to have his office* arranged upon some 
decisive and permanent footing. It will not be amiss to be on 
your guard. The Baron is a gentleman for whom I have a par 
ticular esteem; and whose zeal, intelligence, and success, the 
consequence of both, entitle him to the greatest credit. But I 
am apprehensive, with all his good qualities, a fondness for 
power and importance, natural to every man, may lead him to 
wish for more extensive prerogatives in his department than it 
will be for the good of the service to grant. I should be sorry 
to excite any prejudice against him on this account : perhaps I 
may be mistaken in my conjecture. The caution I give will do 

* Inspector-General of the Army. 


no harm if I am : if I am not, it may be useful. In either case, 
the Baron deserves to be considered as a valuable man, and 
treated with all the deference which good policy will warrant. 

On the first institution of this office, the General allowed 
him to exercise more ample powers than would be proper for a 
continuance. They were necessary in the commencement, to 
put things in a train with a degree of dispatch which the exi 
gency of our affairs required : but it has been necessary to re 
strain them, even earlier than was intended. The novelty of 
the office excited questions about its boundaries ; the extent of 
its operations alarmed the officers of every rank for their own 
rights. Their jealousies and discontents were rising fast to a 
height that threatened to overturn the whole plan. It became 
necessary to apply a remedy. The General has delineated the 
functions of the Inspectorship in general orders, a copy of which 
will be sent to Congress. The plan is good, and satisfactory to 
the army in general. 

It may be improved, but it will be unsafe to deviate essen 
tially from it. It is of course the General's intention, that 
whatever regulations are adopted by him, should undergo the 
revision, and receive the sanction, of Congress : but it is indis 
pensable, in the present state of our army, that he should have 
the power, from time to time, to introduce and authorize the 
reformations necessary in our system. It is a work which must 
be done by occasional and gradual steps ; and ought to be in 
trusted to a person on the spot, who is thoroughly acquainted 
with all our defects, and has judgment sufficient to adopt the 
progressive remedies they require. The plan established by 
Congress, on a report of the Board of War when Conway was 
appointed, appears to me exceptionable in many respects. It 
makes the Inspector independent of the Commander-in-chief; 
confers powers which would produce universal opposition in the 
army ; and, 'by making the previous concurrence of the Board 
of War requisite to the introduction of every regulation which 
should be found necessary, opens such a continual source of 
delay as would defeat the usefulness of the institution. Let the 
Commander-in-chief introduce, and the legislature afterwards 

58 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [&T. 21. 

ratify, or reject, as they shall think proper. Perhaps you will 
not differ much from me, when I suppose, that so far as relates 
to the Board of War, the former scheme was a brat of faction, 
and therefore ought to be renounced. 

There is one thing which the Baron has much at heart, 
which, in good policy, he can by no means be indulged in : it is 
the power of enforcing that part of discipline which we under 
stand by subordination, or an obedience to orders. This power 
can only be properly lodged with the Commander-in-chief, and 
would inflame the whole army if put into other hands. Each 
Captain is vested with it in his company ; each Colonel in his 
regiment : each General in his particular command : and the 
Commander-in-chief in the whole. 

When I began this letter, I did not intend to meddle with 
any other subject than the Inspectorship ; but one just comes 
into my head which appears to me of no small importance. The 
goodness, or force, of an army, depends as much, perhaps more, 
on the composition of the corps which form it, as on its collec 
tive number. The composition is good or bad, not only accord 
ing to the quality of the men, but in ' proportion to the com 
pleteness or incompleteness of a corps in respect to numbers. 
A regiment, for instance, with a full complement of officers, and 
fifty or sixty men, is not half so good as a company with the 
same number of men. A Colonel will look upon such a com 
mand as unworthy his ambition, and will neglect and despise it : 
a Captain would pride himself in it, and take all the pains in 
his power to bring it to perfection. In one case we shall see a 
total relaxation of discipline, and negligence of every thing that 
constitutes military excellence: in the other, there will be at 
tention, energy, and every thing that can be wished. Opinion, 
whether well or ill-founded, is the governing principle of human 
affairs. A corps much below its establishment, comparing what 
it is with what it ought to be, loses all confidence in itself; and 
the whole army loses that confidence and emulation which are 
essential to success. These, and a thousand other things that 
will occur to you, make it evident, that the most important 
advantages attend the having complete corps, and proportional 


disadvantages the reverse. Ten thousand men, distributed into 
twenty imperfect regiments, will not have the efficiency of the 
same number in half the number of regiments. The fact is, 
with respect to the American army, that the want of discipline, 
and other defects we labor under, are as much owing to the 
skeleton state of our regiments as to any other cause. What 

Have we any prospect of filling our regiments ? My opinion is, 
that we have nearly arrived to our ne plus ultra. If so, we ought 
to reduce the number of corps, and give them that substance and 
consistency which they want, by incorporating them together, so 
as to bring them near their establishment. By this measure 
the army would be infinitely improved ; and the State would 
be saved the expense of maintaining a number of superfluous 

In the present condition of our regiments, they are incapable 
even of performing their common exercises without joining two 
or more together : an expedient reluctantly submitted to by 
those officers who see themselves made second in command of a 
battalion, instead of first, as their commission imports; which 
happens to every younger Colonel whose regiment is united with 
that of an elder. 

What would be the inconveniencies, while the officers who 
remain in command, and who might be selected from the others 
on account of superior merit, would applaud themselves in the 
preference given them, and rejoice at a change which confers 
such additional consequence on themselves ? 

Those who should be excluded by the measure, would return 
home discontented, and make a noise, which would soon subside 
and be forgotten among matters of greater moment. To quiet 
them still more effectually, if it should be thought necessary, 
they might be put upon half-pay for a certain time. 

If, on considering this matter, you should agree with me in 
sentiment, it were to be wished the scheme could be immediately 
adopted, while the arrangement now in hand is still unexecuted. 
If it is made, it will be rather inconvenient, immediately after, 
to unhinge and throw the whole system again afloat. 

60 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [^Ei. 21. 

When you determined on your last arrangement, you did 
not know what success the different States might have had in 
draughting and recruiting. It would then have been improper 
to reduce the number of corps, as proposed. "We have now seen 
their success : we have no prospect of seeing the regiments filled ; 
we should reduce them. 

Believe me to be, 

With great esteem and regard, 

Dear Sir, your obedient servant, 





His Excellency has received your two last favors to-day. In 
the first you hint the want of a reinforcement, but as the inten 
tion of your body is chiefly for observation and skirmishing, and 
not to make any serious stands, it is the less necessary it should 
be powerful in numbers. It will, however, depend upon circum 
stances how far it will be expedient to reinforce you ; and as 
soon as any thing can be determined from them, you shall have 
whatever addition of strength you may stand in need of. 

The information contained in your last, of the enemy's being 
encamped on the road leading from New Brunswick to Prince 
ton, about the Third Mile Run, is not well founded. We have 
had parties and officers reconnoitring as far as the Mile Run, and 
there is no sign of an encampment. They seem to be taking 
their old position with their right at Amboy, their left at Bruns 
wick ; but how long they will remain so it is hard to tell. His 
Excellency desires you will engage some trusty person at South 
Amboy, on whom you can depend for faithful and early intelli 
gence of the appearance of shipping in the river, or any prepa 
rations for a movement by water, that we may be in time pre 
pared to counteract them. 

I am, with regard, Sir, 

Your most obedient servant, 




ALBANY, 8th May, 1778. 


An opinion of your benevolence leads me to address this 
letter to you. Accident has introduced me to Monsieur Lewis 
de Caleron. We happen to lodge in the same house. His mod 
esty and! decent manners made an impression upon me, and 
induced me to make some inquiries into his history and char 
acter. The gentlemen of this place say handsome things of 
him. He is the son of a Major General who fell last war at 
Ticonderoga. The family is still in Canada, and one of the 
most respectable in that country. He was sent to France when 
five years old, and there educated. He came out with some 
French troops to Martinico, and by their General, as well as Mr. 
Bingham, was recommended to Congress. They gave him a 
brevet for a Captain's commission. He served last campaign as 
a volunteer, first with General Furmoy, and afterwards with 
Colonel Morgan. To me he appears to have been neglected. It 
seems he did not descend to the adulation lately fashionable, and 
perhaps acceptable, in his department. While effrontery and 
arrogance, even in our virtuous and enlightened days, are giving 
rank and importance to men whom wisdom would have left in 
obscurity, I am persuaded you will be happy in an opportunity 
of exploring, as well as cherishing, modest merit. I think M. 
De Caleron is not without it, and under this impression I re 
commend him to your notice as a probationer. 

Tell me in some future letter whether he deserves the favor 
able opinion I am inclined to entertain of him. 
I am, dear Sir, 

Yery sincerely, and with much esteem, 
Your obedient servant, 


Lt. Col. Hamilton. 



HEAD-QUARTERS, 4th June, 1778. 


Mr. Loring having been sent by Sir Henry Clinton to meet 
Mr. Boudinot, or any other person appointed by me for the 
purpose of effecting an exchange of prisoners. I have therefore 
to desire you (Mr. Boudinot being absent from camp) to hear 
any proposals Mr. Loring may have to offer on this subject ; and 
to do definitively whatever may be necessary towards the execu 
tion of a general exchange of prisoners. And I hereby assure 
you that your proceedings in this instance will be ratified by me. 
I am, Sir, your very humble servant, 


Lieut. Col. Hamilton. 


25th June, 1778. 


We find, on our arrival here, that the intelligence received 
on the road is true. The enemy have all filed off from Allen 
Town, on the Monmouth road. Their rear is said to be a mile 
westward of Lawrence Taylor's tavern, six miles from Allen 
Town. General Maxwell is at Hyde's Town, about three miles 
from this place. General Dickinson is said to be on the enemy's 
right flank ; but where, cannot be told. We can hear nothing 
certain of General Scott; but, from circumstances, he is pro 
bably at Allen Town. We shall, agreeably to your request, 
consider and appoint some proper place of rendezvous for the 
union of our force, which we shall communicate to Generals 
Maxwell and Scott, and to yourself. In the mean time, I would 
recommend to you to move toward this place as soon as the con 
venience of your men will permit. I am told that Colonel Mor 
gan is on the enemy's right flank. We had a slight skirmish 


with their rear this forenoon, at Kobert Montgomery's, on the 
Monmouth road, leading from Allen Town. We shall see Gen 
eral Maxwell immediately, and you will hear from us again. 
Send this to the General after reading it. 

I am your ob't serv't, 


DOCTOR STILE'S HOUSE, Cranbury Town, 9 o'clock. 

We are just informed that General Scott passed by Hooper's 
tavern, five miles from Allen Town, this afternoon at five o'clock. 
M. De Lafayette. 


$ ROBIN'S TAVERN, 8 miles from Allen Town, 
) 12 o'clock, June 26, 1778. 


We have halted the troops at this place. The enemy, by 
our last reports, were four miles from this (that is, their rear), 
and had passed the road which turns off toward South Amboy, 
which determines their route toward Shrewsbury. Our reason 
for halting, is the extreme distress of the troops for want of 
provisions. General Wayne's detachment is almost starving, 
and seems both unwilling and unable to march further till they 
are supplied. If we do not receive an immediate supply, the 
whole purpose of our detachment must be frustrated. 

This morning we missed doing any thing, from a deficiency 
of intelligence. On my arrival at Cranbury yester-evening, I 
proceeded, by desire of the Marquis, immediately to Hyde's 
Town and Allen Town, to take measures for co-operating with 
the different parts of the detachment, and to find what was doing 
to procure intelligence. I found every precaution was neglected ; 
no horse was near the enemy, nor could be heard of till late in 
the morning 1 : so that before we could send out parties and get 
the necessary information, they were in full march : and as they 

64 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [^Ei. 21. 

have marched pretty expeditiously, we should not be able to 
come up with them during the march of the day, if we did not 
suffer the impediment we do, on the score of provisions. We 
are entirely at a loss where the army is, which is no inconsid 
erable check to our enterprise. If the army is wholly out of 
supporting distance, we risk the total loss of the detachment in 
making an attack. 

If the army will countenance us, we may do something 
clever. We feel our personal honor, as well as the honor of the 
army, and the good of the service, interested ; and are heartily 
desirous to attempt whatever the disposition of our men will 
second, and prudence authorize. It is evident the enemy wish 
to avoid, not to engage us. 

Desertions, I imagine, have been pretty considerable to-day. 
I have seen eight or ten deserters, and have heard of many more. 
We have had some little skirmishing by detached parties : one 
attacked their rear-guard with a degree of success, killed a few, 
and took seven prisoners. 

An officer is just come in, who informs that he left the 
enemy's rear five miles off, still in march, about half an hour 
ago. To ascertain still more fully their route, I have ordered a 
fresh party on their left, toward the head of their column. They 
have three brigades in rear of their baggage. 

I am, with great respect and regard, Sir, 
Your obedient servant, 


His Excellency General Washington. 


June 28, 1778. 


The result of what I have seen and heard, concerning the 
enemy, is, that they have encamped with their van a little be 
yond Monmouth Court House, and their rear at Manalapan's 


river, about seven miles from this place. Their march to-day 
has been very judiciously conducted ; their baggage in front, 
and their flying army in the rear, with a rear-guard of one thou 
sand men about four hundred paces from the main body. To 
attack them in this situation, without being supported by the 
whole army, would be folly in the extreme. If it should be 
thought advisable to give the necessary support, the army can 
move to some position near the enemy's left flank, which would 
put them in a very awkward situation, with so respectable a 
body in their rear ; and it would put it out of their power to 
turn either flank, should they be so disposed. Their left is 
strongly posted, and I am told their right also. By some 
accounts, one part of their army lies on the road leading from 
the Monmouth road to South Amboy. It is not improbable 
that South Amboy may be the object. 

I had written thus far when your letter to the Marquis 
arrived. This puts the matter on a totally different footing. 
The detachment will march to-morrow morning at three o'clock 
to English Town. 

I am, with great regard and esteem, 
Your obedient servant, 


His Excellency Gen. Washington. 


BLACK POINT, July 20, 1778. 


Inclosed I transmit your Excellency a letter from Count 
D'Estaing. He has had the river sounded, and finds he cannot 
enter. He will sail for Khode Island to-morrow evening. In 
the mean time, he is making demonstrations to deceive the enemy, 
and beget an opinion that he intends to operate in this quarter. 
He would sail immediately, but he awaits the arrival, or to hear, 
of a frigate which carried Mr. Gerard to Delaware, and which he 

VOL. I. 5 


appointed to meet him at Sandy Hook ; so that lie fears his sud 
den and unexpected departure, before she arrives, might cause 
her to be lost. He will not, however, wait longer than till to 
morrow evening. We have agreed, that five cannon, fired briskly, 
shall be a signal of his arrival by day, and the same number, with 
five sky-rockets, a signal by night. In communicating this to 
General Sulli van, the Count wishes not a moment may be lost ; 
and that he may be directed to have persons stationed on the 
coast, and intermediate expresses, to facilitate the communication 
between them. Pilots will be a material article. He begs every 
thing may be forwarded as much as possible ; and as many troops 
collected as may be. He would be glad if a detachment could 
march from your army, or could be sent by water ; for which 
purpose he would send covering ships, and some vessels he has 
taken, by way of transports ; but he cannot think of losing so 
much time as seems necessary. If the water scheme could 
shorten it, it would be a happy circumstance. He recommends 
it to your attention ; and that you would take measures, if the 
end can be better answered in this way, and meet him with infor 
mation of the part he may have to act to execute the plan. I 
perceive he can, with difficulty, debark four thousand troops ; 
but he will try to do it. 

I hope your Excellency will excuse my not being myself the 
bearer of these particulars ; the end may be answered by letter. 
Mr. Neville is anxious to get on. I just have heard of dispatches 
arrived from you. I don't know but they may contain some 
thing new which may make the Count to wish a good convey 
ance to return an answer. My stay till to-morrow morning may 
answer that end. I shall not delay coming forward. 
I am, Sir, your most respectful 

And obedient servant, 


His Excellency General "Washington. 



NEWARK, July 23, 1778, one o'clock. 


I wrote to your Excellency the evening of the 20th, by Major 
Neville. I remained in the neighborhood of Black Point till the 
afternoon following. The Count had received his expected dis 
patches from Congress, and was to sail, as I mentioned before, the 
first fair wind. At Brunswick, yesterday, Mr. Caldwell joined 
me. He was immediately from the Point, and brought intelli 
gence that g the fleet got under way yesterday morning. The 
wind, unfortunately, has been much against them ; which is so 
much the more to be regretted, as they are rather in want of 

I need not suggest to your Excellency, that an essential part 
of the Rhode Island plan, is to take every possible measure to 
watch the enemy's motions, and to establish expresses from place 
to place, to give the Count instant information of any movement 
among their fleet. This will enable him to be in time to inter 
cept them, should they attempt to evacuate New-York, while he 
is at Ehode Island ; and will, in general, facilitate the intercourse 
and co-operation between him and your Excellency. 

I have nothing new to communicate, beside what was sent by 
Major Neville, and what I now send. All the ideas interchanged 
between the Count and myself, were such as were familiar before 
I left Head Quarters. He was to go to Rhode Island, and, in 
conjunction with General Sullivan, endeavor to possess himself 
of the enemy's ships and troops there ; if, on his arrival, he had 
good reason to think it could be effected without further assist 
ance. If not, he will be glad of a reinforcement from you in the 
most expeditious manner possible. What manner you think will 
be most expeditious, you will adopt ; and if his aid may be use 
ful, he will afford it as soon as he is informed of it. 

This being the case, my immediate presence at Head Quarters 
is the less necessary as to this business ; and I hope your Excel 
lency will indulge me, if I do not make all the dispatch back 


which a case of emergency would require ; though I do not mean 
to delay, more than a moderate attention to my frail constitution 
may make not improper. I have, &c., 

His Excellency Gen. Washington. 



You have seen, and by this time considered, General Lee's 
infamous publication. I have collected some hints for an answer ; 
but I do not think, either that I can rely upon my own know 
ledge of facts and style to answer him fully, or that it would be 
prudent to undertake it without counsel. An affair of this kind 
ought to be passed over in total silence, or answered in a mas 
terly manner. 

The ancient secretary is the Eecueil of modern history and 
anecdotes, and will give them to us with candor, elegance, and 
perspicuity. The pen of Junius is in your hand ; and I think 
you will, without difficulty, expose, in his defence, letters, and 
last production, such a tissue of falsehood and inconsistency, as 
will satisfy the world, and put him for ever to silence. 

I think the affair will be definitively decided in Congress this 
day. He has found means to league himself with the old faction, 
and to gain a great many partisans. 

Adieu, my dear boy. I shall set out for camp to-morrow. 



A YORCTOWN, ler Septembre, 1778. 

Ne suis-je pas bien malheureux, cher Colonel. On me pousse 
pour aller a Boston, on me chasse de Ehode Island, ils n'ont ni 
repos, ni patience que je ne sois parti, et le meme jour que je 
m'absente est le seul ou j'aurais du, ou j'avais voulu etre dans 1'ile. 


Le diable en vent dans ce moment a tons les franc; ais ; heureuse- 
ment que je viens de 1'attraper, car a force de conrir je snis arrive 
a temps ponr i'evacnation dont il vonlait encore me priver. Le 
mallienr de ne pas etre a la premiere affaire m'a fait la peine la pins 
vive, et je ne m'en consolerai jamais, quoique ce soit bien loin d'etre 
ma fante. Les denx retraites font honnenr anx tronpes et an 
general Sullivan, qui 1'y est condnit parfaitement, elles en font 
rne anx Anglais et a lenr ge"nereaux qni n'ont montre" ni activite, 
ni genie, dn moins a ce qn'il me parait. 

Le malheureux Mr. Tonsard a en le bras emporte an milien 
d'nne des actions les pins valenrense qni ait ete faite. C'est un 
homme aussi brave qu'il ait honnete. Je Grains d'embarrasser le 
general en Ini mandant ce qne je vondrais qn'on fit ponr Ini ; 
mais le commission de Major ne ponvait-elle pas se changer en 
celle de lientenant Colonel ; il avait fait nn arrangement avant de 
partir le grand arrangement de Mr. du Coudray, on en cas de la 
perte d'une membre, ils devaient avoir une pension de tant, cet 
arrangement-la qni comme von-savez n'a pas ete accepte, ne 
ponvait-il pas sa renonveller en sa favenr. 

II fant qne vons me rendiez nn grand service ; c'est de me 
mander le pins de details possibles snr la flotte de Lord Howe, 
les moyens qni existent a New- York, etc. etc. Mr. D'Estaing a 
beanconp de raisons de croire qn'il est arrive qnelqnes vais- 
seanx d'Angleterre, autres le Cornwall. Mandez-moi dans nne 
longne lettre, Mon Cher Hamilton, ce qne vons pensez snr ce qni 
a 6te fait, ce qni va se faire, et ce qne ponvait etre fait dans la 
suite. Yotre depeche me tronvera a Warren, petite ville pres de 
la Providence, ou je vais m'occnper a garder beanconp de pays 
avec pen de tronpes, et ou sans repondre d'empecher nne descente 
des ennemis ; je ferai le moins mal possible ; si forces 6gales, je 
tacherai de les battre. On me flatte que le General viendra ici 
lui-meme ; Dieu le venille. Les affaires sur lesquelles je vous ai 
ecrit mes complaintes, 1'appaisent un pen, mais pour prendre 
Rhode Island il nous fant le General Washington. 

J'attends de vos nouvelles par Mons de Pontgibault et finerai 
simplement ma lettre en vous assurant de mon tendre attache- 



70 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [&T. 21. 


HEAD QUARTERS, Nov. 8, 1778. 


I have received your favor of the 4th, and shall with pleasure 
communicate the intelligence we have had at Head Quarters. 
On the morning of the third one hundred and eight sail of ves 
sels sailed out of the Hook, supposed, from the best calcula 
tions, to contain seven or eight, thousand men. They first steered 
to the eastward, but soon after changed their course and bore 
S. E. with the wind at N. W. The general accounts from New- 
York speak of three distinct embarkations one for the West 
Indies another for Halifax another for St. Augustine. One 
division, which seems to be best ascertained, contains ten or 
twelve British regiments, and most of the new levies, which 
probably went in the above-mentioned fleet. 

This much is pretty certain, that the embarkation has con 
tinued since the departure of that fleet, which is a strong circum 
stance in favor of a general evacuation. All their vessels the 
least out of repair are drawn up to the different ship-yards, and 
their repairs are going on with all possible vigor. Whether the 
merchants are packing up or not, is a point still much in dubio ; 
though we have several accounts that look like it, but they are 
not so precise and certain as could be wished. Several bales of 
goods have been seen on the wharves, marked for particular 
ships. A deserter, indeed, lately from the city, insists that he 
saw Coffin and Anderson packing up. This, if true, would be 
decisive, for this is a very considerable house particularly attached 
to the army. One of our spies, a trusty one too, writes the 31st 
of October that the principal part of the sick from the hospitals 
had embarked ; bat this stands almost wholly upon its own bot 
tom. The capture of -Jamaica seems to be a mere rumor. There 
are several others, respecting St. Kitts, Monserat, and Grenada. 
The two former are said to have been taken by surprise on a tem 
porary absence of their guard-ships, but these stories were not 
improbably suggested by a late sudden and very considerable rise 


in the prices of rum and molasses. The former being as high as 
fourteen or fifteen shillings per gallon. Large purchases have 
been made of these articles as sea stores for the troops, and the 
speculators in the city have been bidding against the Commissa 
ries, which better accounts for the increased prices. 

It is a question very undecided in my mind whether the 
enemy will evacuate or not. Eeasoning a priori, the arguments 
seem to be strongest for it from the exhausted state of the 
British resources the naked condition of their dominions every 
where and the possibility of a Spanish war. But on the other 
hand naval superiority must do a great deal in the business. This, 
I think, considering all things, appears clearly enough to be on the 
side of Britain. The sluggishness of Spain affords room to doubt 
her taking a decisive part. The preserving posts in these States 
will greatly distress our trade, and give security to the British 
West India trade. They will also cover the West Indies, and 
restrain any operations of ours against the British dominions on 
the continent. These considerations, and the depreciated state 
of our currency, will be strong inducements to keep New- York 
and Ehode Island, if not with "a view to conquest, with a view to 
temporary advantages, and making better terms in a future nego 

From appearances, the great delay which attends the embarka 
tion, the absolute tranquillity of the post at Khode Island, where 
there is no kind of preparation for leaving it, and some other cir 
cumstances, seem to indicate an intention to remain. On the 
other hand, besides the general appearances I have already men 
tioned, their inattention to the petition of the refugees, and the 
not raising new works, are strong additional reasons for going 
away. I think it most probable, if they were determined to con 
tinue a garrison, that they would give most explicit assurances to 
their friends, in order to encourage their proposal, and engage 
them to aid in maintaining it. I think also they would contract 
their works, to be better proportioned to the number of the gar 
rison, and of course more defensible, by throwing a chain of for 
tifications across the narrow part of the island. 

Nothing has yet been decided, that we know of, with respect 


to the sentences you mention. General Lee's case, by our last 
advices, was on the eve of a final decision. It seems he has made 
a strong party in Congress, and is very confident of having the 
sentence annulled. St. Glair's trial was ordered to be printed for 
the separate consideration of the members. 

The depreciation of our currency really casts a gloom on our 
prospects, but my sentiments on this subject are rather peculiar. 
I think, bad as it is, it will continue to draw out the resources of 
the country a good while longer, and especially if the enemy 
make such detachments, of which there is hardly a doubt, as will 
oblige them to act on the defensive. This will make our public 
expenditures infinitely less and will allow the States leisure to 
attend to the arrangements of their finances, as well as the coun 
try tranquillity to cultivate its resources. 

Any letters that may come to Head Quarters for you will be 
carefully forwarded. 

I am, with the most respectful attachment, 

Dear Sir, your obed't servant, 



HEAD QUARTERS, 19th Dec., 1778. 

I snatch a hasty moment, my dear Baron, to acknowledge the 
receipt of your obliging favor of the sixth. It came here while 
I was absent in an interview with some British Commissioners on 
the subject of an exchange of prisoners, and was not delivered 
to me till two days ago. I am sorry that your business does not 
seem to make so speedy a progress as we all wish ; but I hope it 
will soon come to a satisfactory termination. I wish you to be 
in a situation to employ yourself usefully and agreeably, and to 
contribute to giving our military constitution that order and per 
fection it certainly wants. I have not time now to enter upon 
some matters which I shall take another opportunity to give you 
my sentiments concerning. I have read your letter to Lee with 


pleasure. It was conceived in terms which the offence merited ; 
and if he had had any feeling, must have been felt by him. Con 
sidering the pointedness and severity of your expressions, his 
answer was certainly a very modest one, and proved that he had 
not a violent appetite for so close a tete-a-tete as you seem dis 
posed to insist upon. This evasion, if known to the world, would 
do him very little honor. I don't know but I shall be shortly at 
Philadelphia : if so, I shall have the honor of personally assuring 
you of the perfect respect and esteem with which I am, 
My dear Baron, 

Your most obed't servant, 



24th December, 1778. 

General Lee, attended by Major Edwards and Col. Laurens 
attended by Col. Hamilton, met agreeable to appointment on 
Wednesday afternoon half past three, in a wood, situate near the 
four mile stone on the Point-no-Point Eoad. Pistols having 
been the weapons previously fixed upon, and the combatants be 
ing provided with a brace each, it was asked in what manner 
they were to proceed. General Lee proposed to advance upon 
one another, and each fire at what time and distance he thought 
proper. Col. Laurens expressed his preference of this mode, and 
agreed to the proposal accordingly. 

They approached each other within about five or six paces, and 
exchanged a shot almost at the same moment. As Col. Laurens 
was preparing for a second discharge, General Lee declared him 
self wounded. Col. Laurens, as if apprehending the wound to 
be more serious than it proved, advanced towards the General 
to offer his support. The same was done by Col. Hamilton and 
Major Edwards under a similar apprehension. General Lee then 
said the wound was inconsiderable ; less than he had imagined 

74 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [Mi. 21. 

at the first stroke of the ball, and proposed to fire a second time. 
This was warmly opposed both by Col. Hamilton and Major 
Edwards, who declared it to be their opinion, that the affair 
should terminate as it then stood. But General Lee repeated 
his desire, that there should be a second discharge, and Col. Lau- 
rens agreed to the proposal. Col. Hamilton observed that, un 
less the General was influenced by motives of personal en- 
"mity, he did not think the affair ought to be pursued any further ; 
but as Gen. Lee seemed to persist in desiring it, he was too ten 
der of his friend's honor to persist in opposing it. The combat 
was then going to be renewed ; but Major Edwards again declar 
ing his opinion, that the affair ought to end where it was, Gen. 
Lee then expressed his confidence in the honor of the gentlemen 
concerned as seconds, and said he should be willing to comply 
with whatever they should coolly and deliberately determine. 
Col. Laurens consented to the same. 

Col. Hamilton and Major Edwards withdrew, and conversing 
awhile on the subject, still concurred fully in the opinion, that for 
the most urgent reasons, the affair should terminate as it was 
then circumstanced. This decision was communicated to the 
parties and agreed to by them, upon which they immediately 
returned to town ; General Lee slightly wounded in the right side. 

During the interview a conversation to the following purport 
passed between General Lee and Col. Laurens. On Col. Hamil 
ton's intimating the idea of personal enmity, as before mentioned 
Gen. Lee declared he had none, and had only met Col. Lau 
rens, to defend his own honor that Mr. Laurens best knew 
whether there was any on his part. Col. Laurens replied, that 
General Lee was acquainted with the motives that had brought 
him there, which were, that he had been informed from what he 
thought good authority, that Gen. Lee had spoken of General 
Washington in the grossest and most opprobrious terms of per 
sonal abuse, which he, Col. Laurens, thought himself bound to 
resent, as well on account of the relation he bore to General 
Washington, as from motives of personal friendship and respect 
for his character. General Lee acknowledged that he had given 
his opinion against General Washington's military character to 


his particular friends, and might perhaps do it again. He said 
every man had a right to give his sentiments freely of mili 
tary characters, and that he did not think himself person 
ally accountable to Col. Laurens for what he had done in that 
respect. But he said he never had spoken of General Washing 
ton in the terms mentioned, which he could not have done ; as 
well because he had always esteemed General Washington as a 
man, as because such abuse would be incompatible with the char 
acter he would ever wish to sustain as a gentleman. 

Upon the whole, we think it a piece of justice to the two gen 
tlemen to declare, that after they met, their conduct was strongly 
marked with all the politeness, generosity, coolness and firmness, 
that ought to characterize a transaction of this nature. 



PHILADELPHIA, December 24th, 1778. 


11 Janvier, 1779. 

Je nai point reu, mon cher Hamilton, les papi^rs que vous 
deviez m'envoyer avec Les Signes en chiffres. 

Si vons desirez ce dont nous etiens convenu, lorsque je partis 
du quartier General, remettez le tout a M. De la Colombe, qui 
dans deux mois part pour France. Je vous promets beaucoup 
de verite et jeu d' esprit dans la narration. 

Dans peu de minutes, nous voguerous ; presentez mon respect 
a son Excellence, et mes amities a toute votre famille. Souvenez 
vous de tout ce que je vous ai dit a mon depart et soyez homme 
de parole. 

Adieu, soyez sur que vous avez en moi un bon et vrai ami ; 
n'en doutez point, et vous rendrez justice. 

Col. Hamilton, 
Aid-de-Camp of 
His Excellency General Washington, 

Head Quarters. 



HEAD QUARTERS, March 14, 1779. 


Colonel Laurens, who will have the honor of delivering you 
this letter, is on his way to South Carolina, on a project which I 
think, in the present situation of affairs there, is a very good 
one, and deserves every kind of support and encouragement. 
This is, to raise two, three, or four battalions of negroes, with 
the assistance of the government of that State, by contributions 
from the owners, in proportion to the number they possess. If 
you should think proper to enter upon the subject with him, he 
will give you a detail of his plan. He wishes to have it recom 
mended by Congress to the State ; and, as an inducement, that 
they would engage to take their battalions into Continental pay. 

It appears to me, that an expedient of this kind, in the pre 
sent state of Southern affairs, is the most rational that can be 
adopted, and promises very important advantages. Indeed, I 
hardly see how a sufficient force can be collected in that quarter 
without it : and the enemy's operations there are growing 
infinitely serious and formidable. I have not the least doubt, 
that the negroes will make very excellent soldiers, with proper 
management : and I will venture to pronounce, that they cannot 
be put in better hands than those of Mr. Laurens. He has all 
the zeal, intelligence, enterprise, and every other qualification, 
requisite to succeed in such an undertaking. It is a maxim with 
some great military judges, that, with sensible officers, soldiers 
can hardly be too stupid : and, on this principle, it is thought 
that the Eussians would make the best soldiers in the world, if 
they were under other officers than their own. The King of 
Prussia is among the number who maintains this doctrine, and 
has a very emphatic saying on the occasion, which I do not ex 
actly recollect. I mention this because I have frequently heard 
it objected to the scheme of embodying negroes, that they are 
too stupid to make soldiers. This is so far from appearing to 
me a valid objection, that I think their want of cultivation (for 


their natural faculties are as good as ours), joined to that habit 
of subordination which they acquire from a life of servitude, will 
enable them sooner to become soldiers than our white inhabit 
ants. Let officers be men of sense and sentiment; and the 
nearer the soldiers approach to machines, perhaps the better. 

I foresee that this project will have to combat much opposi 
tion from prejudice and self-interest. The contempt we have 
been taught to entertain for the blacks, makes us fancy many 
things that are founded neither in reason nor experience ; and 
an unwillingness to part with property of so valuable a kind, 
will furnish a thousand arguments to show the impracticability, 
or pernicious tendency, of a scheme which requires such sacri 
fices. But it should be considered, that if we do not make use 
of them in this way, the enemy probably will ; and that the best 
way to counteract the temptations they will hold out, will be, to 
offer them ourselves. An essential part of the plan is, to give 
them their freedom with their swords. This will secure their 
fidelity, animate their courage, and, I believe, will have a good 
influence upon those who remain, by opening a door to their 
emancipation. This circumstance, I confess, has no small weight 
in inducing me to wish the success of the project; for the dic 
tates of humanity, and true policy, equally interest me in favor 
of this unfortunate class of men. 

While I am on the subject of southern affairs, you will ex 
cuse the liberty I take in saying, that I do not think measures 
sufficiently vigorous are pursuing for our defence in that quarter. 
Except the few regular troops of South Carolina, we seem to be re 
lying wholly on the militia of that and the two neighboring States. 
These will soon grow impatient of service, and leave our affairs 
in a miserable situation. No considerable force can be uniformly 
kept up by militia ; to say nothing of the many obvious and 
well-known inconveniences that attend this kind of troops. I 
would beg leave to suggest, Sir, that no time ought to be lost in 
making a draught of militia to serve a twelvemonth, from the 
States of North and South Carolina and Virginia. But South 
Carolina, being very weak in her population of whites, may be 
excused from the draught, on condition of furnishing the black 


battalions. The two others may furnish about three thousand 
five hundred men, and be exempted, on that account, from send 
ing any succors to this army. The States to the northward of 
Virginia, will be fully able to give competent supplies to the 
army here; and it will require all the force and exertions of 
the three States I have mentioned, to withstand the storm which 
has arisen, and is increasing in the South. 

The troops draughted, must be thrown into battalions, and 
officered in the best possible manner. The supernumerary 
officers may be made use of as far as they will go. If arms are 
wanted for their troops, and no better way of supplying them is 
to be found, we should endeavor to levy a contribution of arms 
upon the militia at large. Extraordinary exigencies demand 
extraordinary means. I fear this southern business will become 
a very grave one. 

"With the truest respect and esteem, 

I am, Sir, your most obedient servant, 

His Excell'y John Jay, 
President of Congress. 


May 26, 1779. 

The General, on reflection, is a little uneasy about the route 
you intend to take. He thinks it not quite safe, as the enemy 
have troops on Long Island and may easily throw a party across 
the Sound, so that you would be in danger of having your 
agreeable dreams interrupted, if you should sleep any where from 
New Haven to Fairneld. 

It is probable, one of the Count's motives in coming this way 
may be to see the ruins of those places ; and if he could do it 
without risk, it would be desirable ; but he would not probably 


be at his ease, if in consequence of it, he should be obliged to 
attend the levee of Sir Henry Clinton. This may happen if he 
continues his intention, unless very good precautions are taken 
to avoid the danger. The General recommends it to you, at 
least to be very vigilant upon your post, and not to suffer your 
self to be surprised. You will be so good as to let us have 
timely notice of your approach, as we shall, at least, meet you at 
Fishkill Landing, with boats to take you down to Head Quarters. 
I have the honor to be, 

Your affectionate and respectful friend, 



llth June, 1779. 


The General sends you four fresh horsemen to enable you to 
transmit him intelligence. The General will take the road you 
marched to your quarters. 

Mind your eye, my dear boy, and if you have an opportunity, 
fight hard. 

Your friend and servant, 



July, 1779. 


There is an encampment of the enemy, or a demonstration of 
one, which appears on the other side of the river, considerably 
on this side of Tarry Town. You will be pleased in conse 
quence to have patrols kept from this till morning, seven or 
eight miles down along the shore and on the roads leading to this 

80 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [Mr. 22. 

place on our right. This might be a critical night, and demands 
the greatest vigilance. 

I am, Sir, 

Your most obedient servant, 




PHILADELPHIA, 29th July, 1779. 


In addition to the lines which I troubled you with the day 
before yesterday by Colonel, or I should say Doctor McHenry ; 
he is an honest man with either, or without any title, permit me 
to inform you. I presented to Congress this morning, Colonel 
Fleury's earnest request for the flag which he had the glory of 
lowering at Stony Point, but there was not a single voice heard 
in second to my motion. In truth, I had spoken to several of 
the members on the subject before the meeting of Congress; 
these discovered not only no inclination, but rather an aversion 
to parting with so high a testimony of a great and brilliant 
victory ; nevertheless, I determined to fulfil my promise ; you 
see the success. Fancy often fills up the chasms made by dis 
appointments of this kind ; many of the most celebrated Italian 
originals in the cabinets of curious fanciful men in England, are 
good copies. Suppose in the present instance the Colonel should 
order an accurate likeness of the first flag to be made, and con 
tent himself with that, or that by a very trifling practice of 
ambidexterity, he should exchange the copy for the original ; or 
suppose he should take a much better and less exceptionable 
method for accomplishing his wishes, that he should arm himself 
with one of Dunlap's Packets, in which his gallant behavior and 
the particular feat of cutting the halliards, stand upon record by 
authority of Congress ; this might be kept in the tin case with 
commissions and testimonials, answer every purpose of display, 


and save the trouble and expense of lugging sixty or eighty 
yards of bunting round the Globe. 

I have executed my commission ; have added my best conso 
latory advice to a disappointed client, and trust the Colonel will 
do me the justice to assure himself, my own opinion on the pro 
priety of his suit was not disclosed fully or partially to any body 
before I had received a modest denial by a profound silence. 

Nothing new from South Carolina, excepting a delegate, who 
left Charleston one day before the date of our late letters. 
I have the honor to be, 

With great esteem and respect, 
Dear Sir, 

Your ob't and humble serv't, 

Col. A. Hamilton, Head Quarters, North Eiver. 


L'lNFANTERY CAMP, 18th AllgUSt, 1779. 


The officers of the two A Battalions of I'Infantery, which I 
actually command, have applied to me for ceasing to run over 
those craggy mountains barefooted, and beg that I would write 
to head quarters to have an order from his Excellency to get one 
pair of shoes for each ; the shoes they hint to are at New Wind 
sor, and their intention is to pay for. 

Do not be so greedy for shoes as for my blanket, and think 
that the most urgent necessity has determined their application ; 
they are quite barefooted. 

I am very respectfully, Sir, 

Your most obedient servant, 


N. B. As his Excellency could form a very advantageous 
idea of our being lucky in shoes by the appearance of the 
VOL. I. 6 

82 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [&. 22. 

officers who dined to-day at head quarters, and were not quite 
without, I beg you would observe to him, if necessary, that 
each company had furnished a shoe for their dressing. 

Camp 1'Infantery, 19th August, 1779. 

Si vous savez un mot de M. De La Luzerne dites le moi. 


August 28th, 1779. 


I with pleasure snatch a moment, agreeable to your request, 
to inform you of the events which have taken place since you 
left us. A York paper of the 24th, announces the arrival of the 
Eussell of 74, which parted three days before from Arbuthnot's 
fleet, which was of course momently expected. Subsequent 
intelligence gives us the arrival of the whole fleet. This comes 
through different channels, and is believed; but we have no 
particulars. Wayne is still safe. 

Northern news says that Sir George Collier, having appeared 
in Penobscot Eiver, put our grand fleet to the rout. They 
were run ashore, abandoned, and burnt ; the troops and seamen 
safe. Colonel Jackson's regiment, which had been sent as a 
reinforcement, landed at Portsmouth. This account comes in a 
letter from General Gates to Colonel Hay. To counterbalance 
the bad in a degree, he tells me three of our Continental frigates 
were arrived at Boston with six sail out of ten of the Jamaica 
fleet which had fallen into their hands, containing 5000 hdds. of 
rum and sugar. 

I have the honor to be, 

Very faithfully and affectionately, 
Your most obedient servant, 


Hon. Mr. Duane. 



August 30th, 1779. 

Mr. De la Luzerne desires me to join him on his route, to ac 
company him to head quarters. I shall depart on Tuesday morn 
ing for Providence, where I may require three days to review 
the regiments ; after which I shall return immediately to Hart 
ford to join the Minister. 

I promised to give you a picture of his new Excellency. He 
is about thirty -six years of age, though he appears younger. In 
the last war he was aid-de-camp to Marshal Broglio. He ap 
pears to be a man of solid sense, and less presumptuous than the 
people of quality in that country usually are. His manners are 
prepossessing ; and they would be more so if he could speak En 
glish. His character appears to me to be good ; and he is less 
reserved than European Ministers usually are. His personal ap 
pearance will not displease the ladies of Philadelphia. He is a 
young chevalier of Malta, who is not so much imbrowned by his 
crusades, but that the American beauties will take pains to teach 
him English in a short time. His Secretary, Mr. Marbois, is a 
counsellor of Parliament, from Metz in Lorraine speaks good 
English; and is a man who shows much information and judg 

Col. Hamilton. 


Kingston, 4th Sept., 1779. 


I have spent some days at this place with our Legislature, and 
have been happy in finding their zeal for the common cause 
undiminished. Every thing which can be asked for the army, 
they will most cheerfully grant, and Col. Wadsworth is gone 
away perfectly satisfied. It is a circumstance to their honor that 

84 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [^E T . 22. 

amidst all their wants and distresses flour and carriage have 
been supplied at 25 per cent, less than in any part of the Conti 
nent : and that by a law of the State. If it had produced the 
effect to be expected from so spirited an example, it must have 
had a powerful influence on our money : but it is to be lamented 
that we stood single, and that our citizens are impoverished by a 
sacrifice of a fourth of their produce and labor to little purpose. 

Be kind enough to forward the inclosed to Lt. Col. Wash 
ington ; and to present my respectful compliments to his Excel 
lency the Commander-in-Chief and the family ; and believe me 
to be, with real esteem and affection, 

Dear Col., 

Your most ob't servant, 

Col. Hamilton. 


Sept., 1779. 


I am at this moment honored with your letter of the 30th 
ultimo, and have communicated that part of it which concerns 
M. De la Luzerne to the General ; agreeably to which we shall 
take our measures on the reception of this private public gentle 
man. We had prepared a party of Cavalry to receive him at 
Fishkill, on the supposition that he would set out with an escort 
from Boston ; but we have now sent orders to the party immedi 
ately to take the route you mention to Hartford, and there place 
themselves under your orders. 

The General requests you will make his respectful compli 
ments to your Chevalier, and gives you carte blanche to say 
every handsome thing you think proper in his name, of the plea 
sure which this visit will give him. I have no doubt that your 
portrait, which appears to be executed en maitre, will be found 
a just representation of the original ; and if he is as happy as his 
predecessor in gaining the esteem and confidence of the men of 


this country, with so many talents to conciliate the leaders, his 
ministry will not be unsuccessful. I augur well for him. Gen. 
Washington proposes to meet him as a private gentleman at 



Sept. 7, 1779. 

My DEAE Sra : 

I this day received your letter of the 4th, with one inclosed 
for Col. Washington, which was immediately forwarded. You 
do not mention the receipt of a line from me which I wrote sev 
eral days since, giving you an account of Arbuthnot's arrival. 

The current of our intelligence makes the reinforcement with 
him amount to about three thousand, mostly recruits and in bad 
health ; it is said some preparations are making for an expedi 
tion, and there are various conjectures about the object ; some 
point to the Southward ; perhaps the true destination is the West 
Indies. But, I confess, I should not be surprised, if the enemy 
should make a further and vigorous attempt to gain possession 
of two or three of the Southern States. If their affairs are so 
desperate with respect to alliance as we are told, the object of the 
war on their side, from conquest must necessarily change to pa 
cification. The acquisition of two or three of the Southern 
States would be a handsome counterpoise to their losses in the 
Islands, and would enable them to negotiate with the more credit 
and success the ensuing winter. 

I am happy to have it in my power to gratify your curiosity 
about the Western expedition with the inclosed agreeable ac 
count. It is the substance of a letter from General Sullivan of 
the 30th, extracted at Col. Hay's request, for Mr. Lowdon's paper. 
The facts are all true, though you will perceive I have given it 
a few of the usual embellishments of a newspaper paragraph. I 
have not specified the number of Gen Sullivan's wounded ; they 


amount to thirty -nine, among which, are Major Titcomb and two 
other officers. This is a pleasing and I hope decisive event. 
In haste, but with the greatest esteem and regard, 
I have the honor to be your most 

Obed't servant, 


Sept. 10, 1779. 


I wish you would send me a copy of General Washington's 
letter of instructions to me a copy of General Orders on the 
subject of the 19th and the sentence of the Court and trial. The 
emissaries from the Virginia party have been industrious to 
injure my military character. 

I am, dear Sir, 

Yours sincerely, 



Sept. 10, 1779. 


Accept my thanks for your favor of the 28th of August, and 
your obliging assurances that you will comply with my request. 
Unless my anxiety in the events of the campaign had been very 
great, I should not have been so unreasonable as to impose this 
burthen on any of my much respected friends at head quarters ; 
well knowing that they, of all others, have the least leisure. I 
find the British reinforcement is arrived. To me it brings no 
terror, as I think we have the strongest evidence that it was not 
originally intended to exceed four thousand men, and these raw 
recruits. You say Wayne is still safe. Let him keep a sharp 
look out ; for I still hold the opinion, that Sir Henry Clinton is 


bound in honor to chastise him, for one of the most daring and 
insolent assaults that is to be found in the records of chivalry ; 
an achievement so brilliant in itself so romantic in the scale of 
British admiration that none but a hero, inspired by the forti 
tude, instructed by the wisdom, and guided by the planet of 
"Washington, could, by the exploit at Paulus Hook, have fur 
nished materials in the page of history to give it a parallel. * * 
You see from this how much I am at my ease. 

To know the value of domestic enjoyment, next to head 
quarters, I recommend the chair at the Board of Treasury, for 
ten months of a session, in which both our friends and foes are 
waging a successful war against the public credit. 

Present my affectionate regard to His Excellency, and the 
family, and believe me, with every friendly sentiment, 

Your affectionate and devoted servant, 



WEST POINT, Sept. 14, 1779. 


I do not recollect whether I said any thing in my last about 
the strength of the reinforcement with Arbuthnot. All the 
accounts agree that it does not exceed 3000, mostly recruits, and 
in very bad health ; it is said more than a thousand died on the 
passage, and the greater part of the remainder are journeying 
fast to the other world. Disease prevails also in the other parts 
of the army and among the inhabitants, more than has been 
known at any time, since the enemy has been in possession of 
the city. They have been of late making extensive preparations 
for embarking troops, and we have just received advice, that 
two German and one British regiment sailed from New- York on 
the llth, under convoy of a Sixty -four. The rumors about the 
destination are various. The West Indies, Georgia, Canada, are 
all talked of, but the first with most confidence, and is no doubt 

88 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [Mi. 22. 

most probable ; our intelligence announces a continuance of the 

A vessel lately arrived at Boston from the Cape, reports that 
she sailed from that place in company with Count D'Estaing, 
with twenty-five sail of the line, and some transports, containing 
6000 troops taken in at the Cape, and bound first for Georgia 
and afterward farther Northward. She parted with the fleet in 
latitude 25, longitude 74. Two other vessels, arived at some 
place in Connecticut, pretend that they parted with a French 
fleet of men of war, and transports, in the latitude of Bermuda, 
steering for this coast. These concurrent accounts are not 
entirely unworthy of attention, though I am not disposed to give 
them entire credit. 

The reduction of the enemy's fleets and armies in this country, 
would be the surest method to effect the complete conquest of 
the Islands ; and it would be one of the most fatal strokes Great 
Britain could receive. The stamina of their Military Establish 
ment are in this country. The ruin of this, and the capture of 
their seamen and ships, would be an irrecoverable loss. The 
"West Indies would scarcely have any further prospect of succor, 
and would be obliged to submit to the power of France almost 
without resistance; which might then operate at leisure, aided 
by ample supplies from this continent, which I believe are the 
principal thing wanting. 

These reasons may have induced the Count to make us a 
visit, during the season of inactivity in the West Indies ; or if 
he does not come himself, if by forming a junction with the 
Spanish fleet, he can make a detachment this way, and still 
maintain a superority for operation in that quarter, this perhaps 
will make the event more probable, than on the former supposi 
tion. I have now given you all the intelligence we have, and 
have mixed certainties, rumors, and conjectures. You will 
extract and believe as much as you think proper. I shall only 
add, that I am with the most perfect esteem and attachment, 

Dear Sir, 

Your most obed't serv't, 



The General and family charge me to present their most 
affectionate respects. We are to receive the new Minister to 
morrow morning. 


MANOR OF LIVINGSTON, 16th September, 1779. 


I have had no earlier opportunity to acknowledge the 
receipt of your very agreeable favor of the 7th instant. To 
yours of the I transmitted an answer by the post. 

I perfectly agree in opinion with you what the enemy ought 
in good feeling to attempt ; but as they uniformly contravene 
their best interests, and pursue measures which can produce the 
least possible advantage, I conclude they will not persevere in 
the system of attacking us in our weakest side the Southern 
States. They may too, by this time, have some reason for 
declining what a more enterprising people would hazard at any 
event. I think I intimated to you that I should not be surprised 
if Count D'Estaing paid a visit to our coast this fall. Eeports 
prevail which announce his approach. In that case they will be 
as safe in New- York as at Savannah or Charleston ; and it is 
no slander to say, that the safety of their army has all along been 
their first object. I have many reasons to be anxious for the 
expedition against the Six Nations. No less than the safety of 
our Northern and "Western frontiers depends upon its success ; 
to say nothing of the vast national advantages which will be 
derived from the reduction of these perfidious savages. By the 
way, what will the world think of our spirit and our resources, 
when at the very instant our enemies, foreign and domestic, pro 
nounced our immediate ruin from the embarrassment of our 
finances, and a series of heavy calamities under which they 
affirmed we were expiring, they see their grand army cooped 
up in a garrison ; their forts taken from them by unparalleled 
bravery; the country of their Indian allies ravaged and 


destroyed without a single effort for their protection; and a 
capital naval armament equipped by a single State, which it 
required misconduct perhaps, on our part, and certainly the 
most hazardous efforts on theirs, to defeat ! I wait with great 
impatience for further intelligence from General Sullivan's army. 
I am not sufficiently acquainted with the country to form a clear 
idea of their intended route; but if they visit the Senecas 
effectually, I suppose we soon shall hear from them at Conode- 
seraga, the chief Seneca town, where our State, so long ago as 
1732, made a large purchase for a settlement, to keep them in ? 
but which was not prosecuted on account of the turbulent and 
faithless temper of the Senecas, and the want of vigor in our 
own Government. 

I must close, or lose the opportunity by a sloop passing to 
New Windsor. Be so good as to pay my most respectful com 
pliments to His Excellency, the family, Generals McDougal, 
Greene and Knox, and if he is still safe, to G. Wayne ; and be 
lieve me to be with great regard, and a disposition to do you 
every possible service, 

Your most obedient servant, 

Col Hamilton. 


MANOR LIVINGSTON, 23d September, 1779. 


I am obliged much by your kind attention to me. The con 
dition of our enemies, instead of being formidable, as they pre 
dicted, seems daily to become more feeble ; and instead of those 
vigorous and decisive operations, which could alone have re 
vived their declining cause, and kept up the spirits of their in 
fatuated adherents, we see nothing but languor, discontent, and 
disgust in their army, their fields, and their councils. Their 
king alone, as if literally hardened by a judicial blindness, per 
sists in his obstinate folly, and courts the destruction of the 


British Empire. If, in addition to all his other wants, distresses, 
and misfortunes, sickness has taken a deep root among his troops, 
and his partisans ; a decisive period must in all probability be 
speedily put to the mad career. 

Count d'Estaing seems to have the ball at his feet. His com 
mand of the ocean must be indisputable when he is joined by 
the Spanish squadron lately at Havana. He may divide his 
force, subdue the West India Islands, and assist us in expelling 
or captivating the remnant of our enemies on this continent. I 
have, however, some distrust of the Count's planet. His former 
ill luck on our coast has led me to think that he is no Felix. I 
conclude not much from the advantages he acquired over Biron ; 
for that man is marked for the child of misfortune, and I dare 
say if his nativity was cast, it would appear that his star fore 
boded decapitation and disgrace. Believe me, I never meddled 
with the black art, nor am I over superstitious, and yet I discern 
that I am not altogether free from a prejudice which was very 
remarkable in the greatest nation of antiquity. Hence it is that 
I so anxiously look for the fortunate completion of our western 
expedition ; even when a train of favorable events renders it so 
highly probable. 

Be so good as to present my affectionate and respectful com 
pliments to the Greneral and all the family ; and believe that I 
shall be happy in every opportunity to convince you that I am 

Your friend and 

Most obedient servant, 


P. S. How do you like the new Minister of France ? I have 
a letter from Gr. Schuyler. In the course of a week I expect 
him here, and shall probably accompany him on a visit to the 
General and our friends at head quarters. 

92 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [&T. 22. 


October 1, 1779. 

I am much obliged to you, my dear sir, for your two letters 
of the 16th and 23d. In haste I snatch up my pen by an ex 
press going off to the Governor, to give you the news as it runs. 
The most important and best authenticated is, that Count D'Es- 
taing was arrived on the coast of Georgia. The tale runs thus. 
We are in possession of a Charleston paper of the 6th of Sep 
tember, which mentions that the Yiscount de Fontagnes had 
arrived at that place, sent by the Count to announce his ap 
proach. Mr. Mitchel, who transmits the < paper, adds, that by 
the express which brought it, Mr. Gerard had received dispatches 
from the Count, informing him of his intention to attack the 
enemy in Georgia on the 9th ; that in consequence of this intel 
ligence Mr. Gerard had postponed his voyage a few days to be 
the bearer of the event. This, I hope, puts a period to the 
danger of the Southern States, for which I could not help having 
strong apprehensions, notwithstanding the presumption drawn 
from the enemies' past folly against their pursuing any plan 
favorable to their interest. I acknowledge the force of the ar 
gument, but I was afraid they might for once blunder upon the 
right way. The departure of Cornwallis on the 25th, with the 
Grenadiers, Light Infantry, and one British regiment, had in 
creased my horrors on this subject. The nature of this corps 
pointed to a temporary service for some important coup de main. 
Charleston presented itself as the only object. They would 
hardly separate the flower of their troops for any remote and 
permanent station. They are continuing their embarkation. 
The accounts we have of the particular corps carry them to 
between five and six thousand. I send you a Boston paper of 
the 23d, containing some interesting European advices. 
Your most respectful and affectionate servant, 


P. S. The General is happy in the hopes you give him of a 


speedy visit from General Sclmyler and yourself, and orders me 
to present his respects to both. The family join in every senti 
ment of perfect esteem. 

HEAD QUARTERS. WEST POINT. October 7th, 1779. 


Since my letter to your Excellency on the 4th instant, I have 
had the honor of a visit from his Excellency, Monsieur Gerard. 
In the conversation we had relative to a co-operation with the 
fleet and troops under your command, he expressed his doubts 
of its being possible for you to continue such a length of time 
as may be essential to the success of the undertaking, and which 
alone could justify me in going into those extensive preparations 
absolutely necessary on our part. I have therefore appointed 
Brigadier General Du Portail and Colonel Hamilton to wait 
upon your Excellency as speedily as possible, and explain to 
you fully my ideas of the proposed co-operation the means 
we shall be able to employ the obstacles we shall have to 
encounter on our side the plans which it may be proper to 
pursue, and the measures which are taking and may be taken 
by the enemy to counteract them. This will enable your Ex 
cellency to determine what you can with propriety undertake. 
I shall only add, that if your Excellency will engage to co-ope 
rate with your whole naval and land force against the enemy's 
fleet and army at New- York, till the winter is so far advanced 
that the ice will make it impracticable to remain with your fleet 
any longer in port, I will bring twenty -five thousand effective 
men into the field, and will exert all the resources of the country 
in a vigorous and decided co-operation. "Without this assurance 
on the part of your Excellency, it would be inconsistent with 
my duty to the public and to the common cause, to incur the 
expense and hazard which would be inseparable from the enter 
prise, and the more disagreeable consequences which would 

94 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [&T. 22. 

attend a failure. I flatter myself your Excellency will be fully 
sensible of the weight of the reasons, on which this declaration 
is founded, and will approve the frankness with which it is 
made, and with which I have instructed General Du Portail and 
Colonel Hamilton to disclose to you every circumstance, and 
every consideration with which it is necessary you should be 
acquainted. If your determination should be in favor of the 
enterprise, I request you will honor me with a line in answer to 
this letter, expressive of your ultimate intentions, and that you 
will communicate to the gentlemen who now wait upon you, the 
previous measures you propose to pursue, and your sentiments 
of the most eligible plan of co-operation. I shall act in conse 
quence, till the period arrives for concerting a final and more 
determinate plan. 

I would now observe to your Excellency, that you may 
repose the most implicit confidence in General Du Portail and 
Colonel Hamilton, and accordingly I recommend them to your 
kind civilities and attention. And, having done this, I have 
only to renew the assurances of that sincere attachment and 
perfect respect with which I have the honor to be 
Your Excellency's 

Most obedient servant, 



MANDLOPEN, October 15th, 1779. 


I have your letters of the 9th and 13th October. The pilots 
have orders one half to proceed to Lewistown, there to wait on 

The route I cannot yet determine, as I am not sufficiently 
acquainted. They will be sent the shortest, and every assist 
ance given them to expedite their arrival. 

Should you leave the Capes before they get there, it would 


be necessary to dispatch a courier to cross at Dover and pursue 
the Jersey route with directions for them. Yourself or courier 
must meet them. 

My intelligence corresponds exactly with the information 
obtained from Captain Monroe and transmitted you from head 

Ehode Island was not evacuated when my last accounts 
arrived, but will be on the Count's appearance. Transports are 
ready there for the purpose. 

Sandy Hook, the Narrows, and Governor's Island are strongly 
fortified. Be assured of my execution of your wishes, and that 

I am your friend and servant, 


Col. Hamilton. 


Head Quarters, West Point, Oct. 18, 1779. 


I have been favored with Colonel Hamilton's letter, mention 
ing your arrival early on the llth, at Philadelphia, and your be 
ing about to set off for Lewistown on the morning on which it 
was written. 

I have attentively considered the object to which you more 
particularly refer, and am now to authorize you (provided the 
Count will not determine on a co-operation to the full extent of 
my instructions), to engage the whole force described in my let 
ters to him, comprehending the Continental troops and militia, 
in such an enterprise against the enemy's shipping, as the Count 
and you may agree to undertake. In a word, I will aid him in 
every plan of operations against the enemy at New- York, or 
Ehode Island, in the most effectual manner that our strength and 
resources will admit. He has nothing more to do, therefore, than 
to propose his own plan, if time will not admit him to accede to 


ours ; weighing thoroughly, consequences of expense and disap 

Inclosed is some intelligence received from Elizabethtown 
since your departure. You will observe the preparations of the 
enemy for throwing every possible obstruction in the Count's 

A chain of alarm ships are stationed in the Sound, to com 
municate the first approach of the Count's fleet to the garrison 
at Ehode Island. This they can propagate in a few minutes by 
signal guns. In a letter from General Gates of the 13th instant, 
he advises me of the arrival of the fleet, which some time ago 
sailed from New -York. It amounts to fifty-six sail, and appear 
ed to be only in a set of ballast. This was confirmed by one of 
the vessels which fell into our hands for a few hours. The opin 
ion is, that it is designed to take off the garrison. 

General Gates makes the marine force at Newport, one fifty, 
and a thirty-two gun frigate. The Eefugee and Wood fleet, 
about thirty-seven sail, mostly armed, at the head of which is the 
Eestoration, late the Oliver Cromwell, of twenty-two guns. One 
frigate is also taken notice of in the fleet from New-York. 

Should the operations against New- York, in either case, be 
undertaken, it will be of the utmost consequence to block up the 
garrison at Ehode Island. You will consider the propriety of 
suggesting to the Count, the detaching of a superior sea force for 
this purpose, previous to his approaching the Hook. For, should 
the measure be deferred till his arrival there, it may not then be 
possible to prevent their junction with the army at New- York, 
as the notice can be so very suddenly transmitted by means of 
the signals which they have established. 

Every proper attention has been given to preparing the neces 
sary number of fascines, and suchother materials as may be requi 
site in this quarter. Fascines, gabions, etc., are also held in 
readiness at Providence in case of an operation against Newport. 
I had thought of the fire ships, and have taken order in the mat 
ter. I do not, however, choose to go to the great expense they 
must run us into, till something is decided with His Excellency 


Count D'Estaing ; but every thing relative shall be provided, so 
as to occasion no delay when such matters become necessary. 

I am, Gentlemen, 

Your most obedient servant, 

Brigadier-General Du Portail. 
Lieutenant-Colonel Hamilton. 


WEST POINT, October 21, 1779. 


In my letters of the tenth and eighteenth, I transmitted all 
the intelligence I had obtained respecting the enemy, from the 
time of your departure to those two periods : and by the present 
conveyance, I inclose you an extract of a letter from Major-Gen 
eral Gates, of the 15th. By this you will perceive, he was fully 
persuaded that the enemy are now preparing to evacuate Khode 
Island ; and he expected, from his advices, they would do it on 
Monday or Tuesday last. 

Whether the event has taken place, or not, as yet, is a matter 
I cannot determine, having received no information since upon 
the subject. But admitting it has not, there is no room to doubt 
that they have all things in a condition to do it, on the shortest 
notice, whenever they shall think the exigency of their affairs 
requires it. It is also equally certain, that they continue to carry 
on their fortifications for the defence of New- York with the ut 
most industry and perseverance ; and appear to be providing for 
the most obstinate resistance. Indeed, as their reduction would 
be attended with the most alarming and fatal consequences to 
their nation, nothing else can be reasonably expected. The mo 
ment I hear the troops have left Ehode Island, I will advise you. 
The garrisons at Yerplanck's and Stony Points, still remain ; 
but from the concurring accounts of deserters, the heavy baggage 
and stores, except about eighteen or twenty rounds for each can 
non, are embarked, and all matters are putting in train for an 

VOL. i. 7 

98 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [^Ei. 22. 

evacuation, in case events make it necessary. The deserters add, 
as a circumstance of confirmation, that Sir Henry Clinton was up 
at the posts about eight days ago ; and that, from that time, they 
have totally declined carrying on any works. 

Having given you the substancfe of the intelligence received 
since my last, I am led (from the vast magnitude of the object 
which carried you from head quarters, and the very interesting 
consequences it may involve, all of which I am persuaded will 
occur to your consideration) to remark, that the Count's entering 
New- York Bay with his fleet, must be the basis and groundwork 
of any co-operation that can be undertaken by us, either for the 
reduction of the enemy's whole force, or the destruction of their 
shipping only. Every thing will absolutely depend upon it, in 
either case ; as, without it, and a free and open communication 
up and down the rivers, and in the Sound, which cannot be effect 
ed and maintained in any other way, we could not possibly 
undertake any operations on Long Island, as our supplies of pro 
visions and stores could only be obtained by water. 

This point, I am certain, would have your due consideration ; 
but it appearing to me the hinge, the one thing upon \%hich all 
others must rest, I could not forbear mentioning it. The circum 
stance of the season now, the expenditure of wood, and the ne 
cessity of supplying it, etc., will of course be fully attended to, 
according to their importance : and I have only to add, from a 
desire of preventing a misconception by either side, if any co 
operation is agreed on, that the terms and conditions may be 
explicitly understood. And whether it shall extend to an at 
tempt to reduce the enemy's whole force, or only to the destruc 
tion of their shipping ; your engagements will provide for the 
continuance of the Count's fleet, to secure our retreat, and the 
removal of our stores from Long and York Islands, if, unhappily, 
it should be found, on experiment, that neither is practicable, 
and we should be obliged to abandon the enterprise. 
I am, Gentlemen, 

With great regard and respect, 
Your most obedient servant, 



P. S. 1-4 after three, P. M. Three deserters have just come 
in, who left Yerplanck's Point last night. They all corroborate 
the accounts, by a detail of circumstances, of the preparations to 
evacuate both that and Stony Point. I have no doubt that things 
will at least be held in readiness. 


After dispatching the above, I received a letter from Major- 
General Heath, of which the following is a copy. 

"I now have the pleasure to acquaint your Excellency, that 
the enemy have left both Points, having burnt and destroyed 
their works." 

General Du Portail. 

Colonel Hamilton. 

MANDEVILLE'S, Oct. 21, 1779. 4 o'clock, P. M. 


MONMOUTH, Oct. 22d, 1779. 


I received your two letters announcing your object, route 
and wishes. I sent to you at Lewistown two pilots; one of 
them Captain Schuyler, from whom you may know more than 
from any other, as he was particularly active. 

The enemy's strength at the Hook consists in two 64's, the 
Europa and Eussell; the Eaisonable, Renown, Roebuck and 

Besides these they have ten frigates and some armed schooners. 
They have sunk ten hulks in the outer channel, and have more 
ready to be sunk; some of those sunk have got afloat and 
reached shore. 

They have also two fire ships. My latest accounts from 
New- York, mention that all was attention and labor among the 
troops. Works are erecting on both sides the Narrows and on 
Governor's Island. 

100 HAMILTON'S WORKS. |>ET. 22. 

Head quarters in Long Island. Evacuation of Khode Island 
not yet taken place. A vessel got in on the 16th from Georgia, 
since whose arrival, the two 64's, and the Eenown have fallen 
down to New-York. 

The troops have embarked from the Hook and gone to the 

I construe these movements as indicatory of the Count's 
withdrawal from the coast. Do write me whenever you may 
hear certainly from the fleet. You will regularly be informed of 

what passes here. 

I am, dear Sir, 

Yours affectionately, 

Col. Hamilton. 


PHILADELPHIA, 23d October, 1779. 


Your favor of the 18th instant from Lewistown, came duly 
to hand, and in consequence of your request, expresses have 
been stationed at proper distances on the road between this and 

Yours of the 19th from Egg Harbor, came to hand at half- 
past two, and yours of the 22d instant, from Col. Westcoat's, 
came to hand at three o'clock this afternoon. 

I shall only observe in answer to your last note, which came 
unsealed, that you have met with no delays from me, since your 
arrival in this city from His Excellency's head quarters, nor 
shall any delays or neglects be given you by the Department 
that I can prevent. 

Your letter to the President of Congress is delivered. I 
have shown him yours to me. Congress is now sitting, but I shall 
wait till they rise in order that his dispatches may go with this 
conveyance; three expresses set out with this to attend any 
orders you may have to dispatch. If you find more necessary, 
you shall have them. 


I had letters from His Excellency yesterday, but none for 
you or General Portail. This day letters came from Charles 
ton, which mention that all the British forces in Carolina and 
Georgia had got to Savannah, where they were invested by the 
Count D'Estaing, and the American forces. He had carried his 
approaches within four hundred yards of their works, and ex 
pected they would surrender in two or three days; the 
Experiment taken, and several other ships and their naval force 
destroyed : but I expect the President will give you a more par 
ticular account ; those accounts are by private letters of good 
authority. Mr. Laurens was my informant. 

I have sent you per the express, Mr. Trueman Kirk of 
O'Mooney, four horses, the best I can procure in so short a time ; 
one of them is a horse you left here. It is with great difficulty 
horses can be procured sufficient to do the public business. 

The President of Congress informs me he cannot write at 
present. The accounts from the southward are as late as the 4th 
instant, on which day the Count's batteries were to open. 

I am with esteem and compl'ts to General Portail Sir, 
Your most obed't servant, 


D. Q. Mst. 

A letter from His Excellency for you and Gen. Portail was 
sent to Lewistown on the 19th inst., but suppose it will be re 
turned ; if so, no time shall be lost in sending it. 
Col. Alexander Hamilton. 


HEAD QUARTERS, WEST POINT, October 25, 1779. 


I have just received a letter from Colonel Hamilton, men 
tioning your having changed your position, at Lewistown, for 
that of Little Egg Harbor ; and that you would write me more 
fully on your arrival at the Furnace. 

102 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [JSi. 22. 

In my last I informed you that the enemy had evacuated 
both their posts at King's Ferry ; since which, no alteration has 
taken place that has come to my knowledge. Things at Khode 
Island remain in the same situation ; at least I have received no 
accounts, either confirming or contradicting my former intelli 

I am, Gentlemen, your most ob't, 

Humble servant, 

Gen, Du Portail. 
Colonel Hamilton. 


GREAT EGG HARBOR LANDING, October 26, 1779. 


"We are honored with two letters from your Excellency, of 
the 10th and 21st ; to the contents of which we beg leave to 
assure you of our strictest attention. 

That of the 18th has not yet come to hand. It is not im 
probable, it has gone round by Lewistown, which has occasioned 
the delay. 

Colonel Hamilton wrote to your Excellency from Philadel 
phia, acquainting you with our arrival there, and our intention 
to proceed to Lewistown, Cape Henlopen, and from Great Egg 
Harbor, communicating our progress since, and our determina 
tion to establish ourselves at Bat Stove Furnace. We have 
since fixed on this place, about forty-four miles from the ex 
tremity of Cape May (eighteen miles short of the Furnace, which 
we found to be more remote than had been represented), and, as 
far as we have been able to learn, from 100 to 110 miles of Sandy 
Hook, and about 50 from Philadelphia. Your Excellency will 
easily perceive the reason of our choosing this station. It did 
not appear to us, from our inquiries^in Philadelphia, to be a point 
well ascertained, that the fleet would stop at the Delaware ; and 
the time which had elapsed, made it more possible, if the Count 

-ffii.22.] CORRESPONDENCE. 103 

should be determined to prosecute any further operations on the 
continent, that he would not lose time by a procedure of this 
sort, but might content himself with sending some transports, 
under escort of a few frigates, to receive the provisions for the 
fleet, and proceed himself directly on to the Hook. On this 
supposition, our position at Lewistown was entirely ineligible. 
The distance at which we were from the city, as well as from 
the Hook ; the delays that would consequently attend our intel 
ligence from every quarter; the difficulty and impossibility, 
sometimes, of traversing the Bay, made our first situation incon 
venient in every respect, in the event of the fleet's proceeding 
immediately to the Hook. These considerations induced us to 
cross the Delaware, and take the position at which we now are ; 
where, or in the vicinity, we propose to remain till the arrival of 
the Count ; till intelligence from him decides the inutility of a 
longer stay; or till we receive your Excellency's orders of 

We have now a better relation to the different points in 
which we are interested, and have taken the necessary precau 
tions to gain the earliest notice of whatever happens. We have 
stationed expresses at the pitch of the Cape, and have established 
a regular communication with Major Lee, and with the city. If 
the fleet should appear off the Delaware, we can be there in 
twelve hours after its first appearance ; and if at the Hook, in 
less than four days ; provided Major Lee is punctual in convey 
ing the intelligence, and the expresses, from either side, in bring 
ing it. 

By recent information from Philadelphia (though not quite 
so distinct and accurate as we could wish), we find, that so late 
as the fourth of this month, the Count, as yet, was to open his 
batteries against the enemy at Savannah. The time that will 
probably intervene between this and the final reduction ; the 
re-embarkation of the Count's troops ; the dispositions for sailing, 
and his arrival on this coast ; may, we fear, exhaust the season 
too much to permit of the co-operation to which our mission re 

We do not, however, despair ; for if the Count has been fully 


successful to the southward, and should shortly arrive (which 
may be the case), the enterprise may possibly go on. 

In a letter from Major Lee, of the 22d, he informs us, that a 
vessel from Georgia arrived on the 16th ; since which the two 
sixty -fours, and the Kenown, which were at the Hook, had fallen 
down towards New- York ; and the troops at the Hook had em 
barked and gone to the city. At first sight, this account alarmed 
us, and made us apprehensive that the enemy had received some 
favorable advices from the southward, which put them out of 
danger, and superseded the necessity of continuing their prepa 
rations for defence. But, on further reflection, we think it more 
probable, that this is only a change of disposition ; and that 
finding, on closer examination, they would be unable to defend 
the Hook, they had determined to relinquish the attempt. 

This seems the more likely, as Major Lee mentions, that a 
part of the hulks, sunk in the channel, had gotten afloat and 
drifted ashore. 

To this experience of the difficulty of obstructing the channel, 
may, perhaps, be attributed the change we suppose. And we 
are confirmed in this conjecture, by the evacuation of the two 
posts at King's Ferry, which appears, by your Excellency's 
letter, to have taken place on the 21st, five days after the sup 
posed arrival of the vessel from Georgia ; a proof that they had 
not received information of any decisive good fortune on their 
side, or ill fortune on ours; and that they persisted in their 
defensive plan. We are persuaded, too, that their exultation 
would have given wings to any good news they might have 
received, and that it would have reached us before this. Were 
the season less advanced, we should regret this change of disposi 
tion ; because we believe the attempt to defend the entrance of 
the Hook would have been fruitless ; and it might have thrown 
a part of their ships, and of their troops, into our hands, in 
the first instance, which could not fail to facilitate the succes 
sive operations. 

But, at this late period, it may rather be an advantage. 
To force the passage, might have required land operations 
against the Hook, which would lose time and expose the fleet 


to the hazard of winds, which would have rendered its situa 
tion critical. JSTow, the fleet may probably enter the bay, on 
its first approach, and be in security : and the whole operation 
will be brought* to a point, and may demand less time for its 

As a large number of fascines, ready for use, appear to us 
essential to any operations that may be undertaken, we presume 
your Excellency has been preparing, and will continue to pre 
pare as many as possible. We beg leave to suggest the utility 
of having, at the same time, a sufficient number of gabions and 
sand bags. Of the former, Colonel Gouvion, if your Excellency 
thinks proper, may be charged with the constructing : the latter 
may be made under the care of the Quarter-Master at Phila 
delphia. Several thousands may be necessary. The usual 
dimensions are fifteen or eighteen inches long, and twelve 
wide. If, notwithstanding the advices from Major Lee, any 
thing by land is to be attempted against the Hook, these will be 
peculiarly useful on such a flat, sandy spot; and, indeed, it 
would be impracticable to construct batteries, in any reasonable 
time, without them. 

"We have the honor to be, 
* Sir, your most obedient and 

Humble servants, 


His Excellency Gen. Washington. 


October 29, 1779. 


I have nothing new since my last ; only a report aboard the 
Navy at the Hook, purporting two naval actions, the one in the 
English Channel between the grand fleets : the second in the 
West Indies : in the former the British were worsted ; the Ar- 

106 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [Mr. 22. 

dent, man-of-war, Admiral Gambier, sunk, and the fleet drove 
into two different ports where they were blocked up ; in the lat 
ter the French were much damaged, and four of their capital ships 

Lt. Col. Simcoe has made lately a very extraordinary tour 
to Middlebrook : he burnt the boats, magazine of forage, court 
house, meeting-house, took two officers at Mr. Yanhorn's, and lost 
himself near Brunswick. The party got safe to South Amboy. 

I send you a letter from head quarters. 


Yours affectionately, 

Col. Hamilton. 


HEAD QUARTERS, WEST POINT, November 1, 1779. 


I have this day been favored with yours of twenty-sixth ult, 
informing me of your removal to Great Egg Harbor. My letter 
of the eighteenth, which had not reached you, went, as you sup 
posed, by way of Philadelphia ; and, lest any accident may have 
happened to it, I inclose you a duplicate. Mine of the thirtieth 
ultimo, which went through Major Lee, informed you of the 
evacuation of Ehode Island. I have since received a letter of* 
the twenty -first ultimo, from my confidential correspondent in 
New- York. He informs me that Rawdon's corps, the 57th, and 
some of the artillery, were then embarked : and it was said, and 
generally believed, that they were bound to Halifax. That the 
Eobuste, of seventy -four guns, had arrived the twentieth, from 
Halifax; and that a number of transports were taking in water 
and ballast. He gave me nothing further worth communicating. 

You will find, by the letter of the 18th, that a provision of 
fascines and gabions was making ; and I shall give directions to 
the Quarter-Master-General, to provide a quantity of sand bags. 

I am sorry to inform you, that Colonel La Rodiere died on 

jE-r.22.] CORRESPONDENCE. 107 

Saturday last. He is to be buried this day with, the honors due 
to his rank. 

I am, with great esteem, Gentlemen, 

Your most obedient servant, 


P. S. Upon a presumption that Colonel Laurens will be on 
board the fleet, the inclosed are sent to you. 

Brigadier-General Du Portail. 
Colonel Hamilton. 


HEAD QUARTERS, WEST POINT, November 2, 1779. 


Since mine of yesterday, I have received another letter from 
my confidential correspondent in New- York, dated the twenty- 
ninth ultimo. He informs me, that the fifty-seventh regiment, 
Eawdon's corps, and the artillery mentioned in his last, were 
to sail on that day for Halifax; and with them, all the heavy 
ships of war, except the Europa. The Daphne frigate, with Sir 
George Collier and Colonel Stewart on board, was to sail for 
England the same day. He says the pilots reported, that it was 
now difficult to bring a vessel into the Hook, on account of the 
hulks sunk there. (By this it would seem that some of them 
still remained upon the shoals.) He says the transports men 
tioned in his last, as taking in water and ballast, only carried it 
down to the ships at. the Hook. The Eainbow, of forty guns, 
had arrived from Halifax. He informs me of no other circum 
stances that materially relate to affairs in New- York. He says 
a packet arrived from England on the twenty-third October. 
The accounts brought by her seemed to alarm the tories very 
much. It was reported that the Ardent, of sixty-four guns, had 
been taken, and the English fleet chased into Portsmouth by the 
combined fleet, which remained off that place several days. He 

108 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [JEi. 22. 

mentions these matters as current reports, and adds, that a fleet 
of victuallers were to sail from Cork the latter end of Septem 
ber, and another of store ships and merchantmen, from Spithead, 
about the same time. 

I am, with great regard, Gentlemen, 

Your most obedient servant, 


The capture of the Ardent is confirmed by a New- York 
paper of the twentieth ultimo. 

General Du Portail and Colonel Hamilton. 




J'ai beaucoup reve* depuis hier a 1'affaire de Caroline, et je 
trouve toujours dans ma tete les monies choses, la meme facon 
de voir, les memes dispositions, que je vais vous expliquer en 
deux mots. Je serais certainement bien aise d'aller en Caroline 
pendant cet hiver, mais je ne voudrais pas absolument le de- 
mander, parceque, si je le demande, on ne me saura plus de 
gre", que je n'irai pas avec le meme agreement, que je ne pourrai 
faire aucune espece d'arrangements qui me donne le moyen 
d'etre vraiment utile la bas, qu'il me vaudra voyager a mes de- 
pens, ce que 1'etat de mes finances ne me permet pas, etc., etc. 
Je ne desire done y aller que dans le cas ou le Congres ayant 
par exemple assez bonne opinion de moi pour croire que dans le 
moment critique je puis etre ne"cessaire dans le pays, il penserait 
de long meme ou avertis par quelqu'un a m'y envoyer, ne 
pourriez vous done pas mon cher Colonel, a propos de la de 
mande du General Washington au Congres, observer, comme de 
vous meme, au General, que si je voulais aller passer mon hiver 
en Caroline cela serait peut-etre fort avantageuese. Si le Gen 
eral le jugeait ainsi, probablement, il vous demanderait si vous 

-ffiT.22.] CORRESPONDENCE. 109 

croyez que cela me convient d'ailleurs et me fit plaisir. Sur cela 
vous poussiez lui repondre que vous en etes persuad^, et que je 
vous ai fait entrevoir meme que dans cette circonstance, je desi- 
rerais que le General et le Congres jugeassent a propos de m'en- 
voyer dans le sud, mais pour le moment de crise seulement, 
souhaitant de revenir pour ses ordres au commencement de la 
Congres prochaine. Le General prendrait done la resolution 
pour cela de me donner les ordres necessaires, si je n'ai besoin 
que des siens, ou s'il pense que le Congres doit intervenir, d'ex- 
pliquer au Congres sa fagon de penser a cet egard. Ceci suffit a 
quelqu'un d'aussi intelligent que vous, pour negocier sous le 
pied ou je desire, ainsi je laisse le reste a faire a votre amitie. 
Que cette lettre d'ailleurs soit un secret entre nous, de quelque 
facon que 1'affaire tourne ; mais je desire absolument d'etre 
gratifie en ceci. Adieu je vous attends a diner et j'ai 1'honneur 

Col. Hamilton. 


Cold in my professions warm in my friendships I wish, 
my dear Laurens, it were in my power, by actions, rather than 
words, to convince you that I love you. I shall only tell you, 
that till you bid us adieu, I hardly knew the value you had 
taught my heart to set upon you. Indeed, my friend, it was 
not well done. You know the opinion I entertain of mankind ; 
and how much it is my desire to preserve myself free from par 
ticular attachments, and to keep my happiness independent of 
the caprices of others. You should not have taken advantage 
of my sensibility, to steal into my affections without my consent. 

But as you have done it, and as we are generally indulgent to 
those we love, I shall not scruple to pardon the fraud you have 
committed, on one condition ; that for my sake, if not for your 
own, you will continue to merit the partiality which you have so 
artfully instilled into me. 

110 HAMILTON'S WORKS. ^T. 22. 

I have received your two letters : one from Philadelphia, the 
other from Chester. I am pleased with your success so far ; and 
I hope the favorable omens that precede your application to the 
Assembly, may have as favorable an issue ; provided the situa 
tion of affairs should require it, which I fear will be the case. 
But, both for your country's sake and for my own, I wish the 
enemy may be gone from Georgia before you arrive ; and that 
you may be obliged to return, and share the fortunes of your 
old friends. In respect to the commission which you received 
from Congress, all the world must think your conduct perfectly 
right. Indeed, your ideas upon this occasion seem not to have 
their wonted accuracy ; and you have had scruples, in a great 
measure, without foundation. By your appointment as Aid-de- 
Camp to the Commander-in-Chief, you had as much the rank of 
Lieutenant-Colonel as any officer in the line. Your receiving a 
commission as Lieutenant-Colonel, from the date of that appoint 
ment, does not, in the least, injure or interfere with one of them; 
unless, by virtue of it, you are introduced into a particular regi 
ment, in violation of the right of succession, which is not the 
case at present, neither is it a necessary consequence. As you 
were going to command a battalion, it was proper you should 
have a commission ; and if this commission had been dated 
posterior to your appointment as Aid-de-Camp, I should have 
considered it derogatory to your former rank, to mine, and to 
that of the whole corps. The only thing I see wrong in the 
affair is this : Congress, by their conduct, both on the former 
and present occasion, appear to have intended to confer a privi 
lege, an honor, a mark of distinction, a something upon you, 
which they withheld from other gentlemen of the family. This 
carries with it an air of preference, which, though we can all 
truly say we love your character and admire your military 
merit, cannot fail to give some of us uneasy sensations. But in 
this, my dear, I wish you to understand me well. The blame, 
if there is any, falls wholly upon Congress. I repeat it, your 
conduct has been perfectly right, and even laudable. You re 
jected the offer when you ought to have rejected it; and you 
accepted it when you ought to have accepted it ; and let me add, 


with a degree of over-scrupulous delicacy* It was necessary to 
your project. Your project was the public good ; and I should 
have done the same. In hesitating, you have refined on the re 
finements of generosity. 

There is a total stagnation of news here. Gates has refused 
the Indian command. Sullivan is come to take it. The former 
has lately given a fresh proof of his impudence, his folly, and 
his *********. 'Tis no great matter ; but a peculiarity in the 
case prevents my saying what. 

Fleury shall be taken care of. All the family send love. In 
this, join the General and Mrs. Washington ; and what is best, 
it is not in the style of ceremony, but sincerity. 


PHILADELPHIA, December 12, 1779. 


Upon my arrival here yesterday evening, I communicated 
the intelligence received from General Wayne, to the President 
of Congress and the French minister. The latter surprised me 
greatly, by informing me, that only one 74 gun ship of the 
Count De Grasse's division, and the Fier Kodrigue, had arrived 
at Chesapeake. I am at a loss how to account for the absence 
of the rest. They have not been within the reach of a superior 
enemy's force : no storm has happened, within our knowledge, 
to drive them to any considerable distance from the coast. It 
cannot rationally be supposed that the Count has received coun 
termanding orders, and that a capital ship of the line, together 
with a very valuable warlike merchantman, is to be sacrificed. 
Be the case as it may, all hopes of passing our reinforcement for 
the southern department, by sea, are out of the question. The 
North Carolina Brigade, after profiting by the navigation of the 
Delaware as far as it would serve them, marched to the head of 


. 22. 

Elk. Thence they proceed, by water, across the Chesapeake, 
and up to Petersburgh, where they are to be overtaken by their 
wagons, and pursue the rest of their way by the middle road to 
Charleston. This is the route marked by the Board of War, 
and a Committee of Congress appointed to confer with them ; 
and I believe it was recommended by Doctor Burke, one of the 
North Carolina delegates lately from that country. It is intend 
ed that the Virginians should pursue the same as far as Peters- 
burgh, where they are to take an upper road. In this route we 
do not avail ourselves of Albemarle Sound. The going up the 
river to Petersburgh will certainly be tedious ; and four hundred 
miles land march is to be executed from thence. I communica 
ted these objections to Mr. Matthews, and proposed the route 
which the General pointed out ; but the poverty of the country 
in provision, and the means of transporting the baggage of the 
troops, he said, would outweigh the advantages of the water car 
riage and direct road. I am by no means satisfied with the pres 
ent arrangement, when I reflect how much more rapidly the 
British may convey their reinforcements : but all the inquiries I 
have made hitherto, have produced nothing favorable to our 
plan. Indeed, in the present unguarded state of the Chesapeake, 
the British might render the passage even of that ineligible. 

Mr. Serle, a member of Congress, who arrived in town last 
night from the neighborhood of Major Leigh's post, asserts, that 
no transports were at the Hook on Wednesday. Whether the 
British operations are delayed by false rumors of Count De 
Grasse's division ; or whether they have heard, as we have here, 
that Count D'Estaing was still on the coast the twentieth of No 
vember, I cannot decide : but one would be inclined to think, 
that they are disconcerted, either by false intelligence, or a total 
defect of it. I entreat you, my dear friend, to transmit me the 
earliest and most accurate relation that can be obtained, of the 
British movements ; and enlighten me with your observations 
upon them. Present my respects and love to our excellent Gen 
eral and the family. May you enjoy all the pleasure, moral and 
physical, which you promise yourself in winter quarters, and be 
as happy as you deserve. 


Tell the Doctor I shall commit his darling to the press this 

Yours, ever, 

Colonel Hamilton. 


PHILADELPHIA, December 18, 1779. 


On my arrival in town, I was informed by the President, that 
Congress had suspended the business of appointing a secretary 
to their minister plenipotentiary at Versailles, until my return, 
in hopes that I might still be prevailed upon to accept the office. 
I replied, that I thought my letter upon the subject sufficiently 
explicit ; and assured him of my sincere desire to be excused 
from serving in that capacity at the present juncture of our af 

He urged the unanimity of the choice with respect to me ; 
the difficulty of uniting the suffrages of all parties, in case of a 
new nomination; and the advantages of this union. Several 
delegates of Congress declared to me the embarrassment of Con 
gress since I had declined. One, in particular, suggested to me 
his apprehension of interest being made for a late delegate of 
New- York, who is candidate for the office, and to whom the 
world, in general, allows greater credit for his abilities than his 
integrity ; and said, " he was determined to oppose him with all 
his influence." When I quitted town the sixteenth, these mat 
ters crowded into my mind. I fell into a train of serious reflec 
tions and self-examination ; endeavored to investigate whether I 
had acted consonantly to the xalov xai aya&ov, and fulfilled the 
duties of a good citizen in this transaction. In fine, I agitated 
the grand question, Whether a citizen has a right to decline any 
office to which his countrymen appoint him ; upon what that 
right is founded ; and whether it existed in my case. 

After undergoing the severest conflict that ever I experi- 

VOL. I. 8 

114 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [>ET. 22. 

enced; sometimes reproaching, sometimes justifying myself; 
pursuing my journey, or turning retrograde ; as the arguments 
on the one side or the other appeared to prevail ; I determined 
that I had been deficient in the duties of a good citizen. I re 
turned to Philadelphia; communicated my sentiments to the 
President and two other members ; and declared to them, that I 
thought it incumbent on me, in the first place, to recommend a 
person equally qualified in point of integrity, and much better 
in point of ability. That if, unhappily, they could not agree 
upon Colonel Hamilton, and that I was absolutely necessary to 
exclude a dangerous person, or to prevent pernicious delays, I 
should think it my duty to obey the orders of Congress. The 
persons now in nomination, are, Colonel Hamilton, Mr. Lovell, 
Mr. G-. Morris, Major Stewart. I am sorry that you are not bet 
ter known to Congress. Great stress is laid upon the probity 
and patriotism of the person to be employed in this commission. 
I have given my testimony of you in this, and the other equally 
essential points. 

I am sorry to inform you, that the North Carolina brigade 
had not quitted Elk the sixteenth ; having been detained by the 

I am sorry to write you, just as I am on the wing. Be so 
good as to thank Tilghman for his letter. Inform him, from Mr. 
Mitchell, that his habiliments are making. 

My love as usual. Adieu. 


Colonel Hamilton. 



Ternant will relate to you how many violent struggles I have 
had between duty and inclination how much my heart was 
with you, while I appeared to be most actively employed here. 
But it appears to me that I should be inexcusable in the light of 


a citizen, if I did not continue my utmost efforts for carrying 
the plan of the black levies into execution, while there remains 
the smallest hopes of success. 

Our army is reduced to nothing almost, by the departure of 
the Virginians. Scott's arrival will scarcely restore us to our an 
cient number. If the enemy destine the reinforcements from 
Great Britain to this quarter, as in policy they ought to do, that 
number will be insufficient for the security of our country. The 
Governor, among other matters to be laid before the House of 
Assembly, intends to propose the completing our continental bat 
talions by drafts from the militia. This measure, I am told, is so 
unpopular that there is no hope of succeeding in it. Either this 
must be adopted, or the black levies, or the State will fall a vic 
tim to the improvidence of its inhabitants. 

The House of [Representatives have had a longer recess than 
usual, occasioned by the number of members in the field. It 
will be convened, however, in a few days. I intend to qualify, 
and make a final effort. Oh that I were a Demosthenes ! The 
Athenians never deserved a more bitter exprobation than our 

General Clinton's movements, and your march in consequence, 
made me wish to be with you. If any thing important should 
be done in your quarter, while I am doing daily penance here, 
and making useless harangues, I shall execrate my stars, and be 
out of humor with the world. I entreat you, my dear friend, 
write me as freely as circumstances will permit, and enlighten 
me upon what is going forward. 

Adieu. My love to our colleagues. I am afraid I was so 
thoughtless as to omit my remembrances to Gibbs. Tell him 
that I am always his sincere well-wisher, and hope to laugh with 
him again ere long. 

Adieu again. Yours ever, 


116 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [&T. 23. 



The present conjuncture is by all allowed to be peculiarly 
critical. Every man of reflection employs his thoughts about 
the remedies proper to be applied to the national disorders ; and 
every one, from a partiality to his own ideas, wishes to convey 
them to those who are charged with the management of affairs. 
The channel of the public papers, commonly made use of for the 
purpose, appears to me exceptionable on several accounts. It not 
only restrains a freedom of discussion, from the extreme delicacy 
of the subject; but the discussion itself increases the evil, by 
exposing our weak sides to the popular eye, and adding false 
terrors to those well-founded apprehensions which our situation 

Instead of pursuing this method, I prefer addressing myself 
to a member of that body, in whose power alone it is, by well- 
digested system, to extricate us from our embarrassments. I 
have pitched upon you, from a personal knowledge of your abil 
ities and zeal. If I offer any thing new and useful, I am per 
suaded you will endeavor to turn it to advantage. If the contrary 
is the case, I am, at least, doing no harm. I shall only have had 
the trouble of writing, and you of reading, a few useless pages. 

The object of principal concern is the state of our currency. 
In my opinion, all our speculations on this head have been 
founded in error. Most people think, that the depreciation might 
have been avoided, by provident arrangements in the beginning, 
without any aid from abroad : and a great many of our sanguine 
politicians, till very lately, imagined the money might still be 
restored by expedients within ourselves. Hence the delay in 
attempting to procure a foreign loan. 

This idea proceeded from an ignorance of the real extent of 
our resources. The war, particularly in the first periods, required 
exertions beyond our strength, to which neither our population 
nor riches were equal. We have the fullest proof of this, in the 
constant thinness of our armies ; the impossibility, at this time, 
of recruiting them otherwise than by compulsion ; the scarcity of 


hands in husbandry, and other occupations ; the decrease of our 
staple commodities ; and the difficulty of every species of supply. 
I am aware that the badness of the money has its influence ; 
but it was originally an effect, not a cause, though it now par 
takes of the nature of both. A part of those evils would appear, 
were our finances in a more flourishing condition. We experi 
enced them before the money was materially depreciated ; and 
they contributed to its depreciation. The want of men soon 
obliged the public to pay extravagant wages for them in every 
department. Agriculture languished from a defect of hands. 
The mechanic arts did the same. The price of every kind of 
labor increased : and the articles of foreign commerce, from the 
interruption it received, more than kept pace with other things. 

The relative value of money being determined by the greater 
or less portion of labor and commodities which it will purchase ; 
whatever these gained in price, that of course lost in value. 

The public expenditures, from the dearness of every thing, 
necessarily became immense ; greater in proportion than in other 
countries ; and much beyond any revenues which the best con 
certed scheme of finance could have extracted from the natural 
funds of the State. No taxes, which the people were capable of 
bearing, on that quantity of money which is deemed a proper 
medium for this country (had it been gold instead of paper), 
would have been sufficient for the current exigencies of Govern 

The most opulent States of Europe, in a war of any duration, 
are commonly obliged to have recourse to foreign loans or sub 
sidies.* How, then, could we expect to do without them, and 

* France owes a debt of near two hundred millions of pounds sterling ; of which 
about twenty-eight millions is due to Governments and individuals in the United 

England owes a debt not much short : of which about thirty millions is like 
wise due in the United Provinces. 

The United Provinces, themselves, owe a debt of the generality, of fifty millions 
sterling besides the particular debts of each province. Russia, Prussia, Denmark. 
Sweden, all owe money to the United Provinces, notwithstanding the assistance of 
their mines. These Governments, too, are patterns of economy. Sweden receives 
a constant supply from France. The House of Austria is also to be included in the 


not augment the quantity of our artificial wealth beyond those 
bounds which were proper to preserve its credit ? The idea was 

The quantity of money formerly in circulation among us, is 
estimated at about thirty millions of dollars. This was barely 
sufficient for our interior commerce. Our exterior commerce was 
chiefly carried on by barter. We sent our commodities abroad, 
and brought back others in return. The balance of the princi 
pal branch was against us ; and the little specie derived from 
others, was transferred directly to the payment of that balance, 
without passing into home circulation. It would have been im 
practicable, by loans and taxes, to bring such a portion of the 
forementioned sum into the public coffers as would have answered 
the purposes of the war : nor could it have spared so considera 
ble a part, without obstructing the operations of domestic com 
merce. Taxes are limited, not only by the quantity of wealth in 
a State, but by the temper, habits, and genius of the people ; all 
which, in this country, conspired to render them moderate : and 
as to loans, men will not be prevailed upon to lend money to the 
public when there is a scarcity, and they can find a more profita 
ble way of employing it otherwise, as was our case. 

The ordinary revenues of the United Provinces amount to 
about twenty -five millions of guilders ; or two millions two hun 
dred and fifty thousand pounds sterling per annum. This is, in 
proportion to its territory and numbers, the richest country in 
the world ; and the country where the people sustain the heaviest 

catalogue. Spain is almost the only considerable European power to be excepted ; 
but this is to be attributed to that inexhaustible fund of treasure which she pos 
sesses in the mines of South America. 

The King of Prussia is one of those potentates the least in debt ; notwithstand 
ing he has a long time made a figure in Europe, much above what the comparative 
strength and resources of his kingdom entitled him to expect. This his superior 
genius has effected. By a wise administration, he maintains an army of one hun 
dred and fifty thousand men, nearly equal to that of France, with one-third of its 
people, and less than a third of its riches. This he does by judicious arrange 
ments ; by a rigid economy ; and by a species of commerce, which is carried on, 
on account of the State. There are several public manufactories, from which the 
army is supplied ; and by the help of which, the money paid out with one hand is 
taken in by the other. 


load of taxes. Its population is about equal to ours, two millions 
of souls. The burthens on the subject are so great, that it is by 
some held almost impracticable, even on extraordinary emergen 
cies, to enlarge the revenues by new impositions. It is main 
tained, their dependence, in these cases, must be on the extraor 
dinary contributions of wealthy individuals ; with the aid of 
which, in some of their wars, they have raised four millions ster 
ling a year. In a country possessed of so vast a stock of wealth, 
where taxes are carried to such a height ; and where the means 
of paying them so infinitely exceed those in our power ; if the 
national revenues only amount to the sum I have stated, how 
inadequate must have been the product of any taxes we could 
have levied, to the demands of the service ! Loans, for the rea 
son before hinted, would have been out of the question ; at least, 
they would have been so trifling as to be an object of little im 
portance. Suppose we should have been able to raise a million 
sterling, annually ; a sum that probably would have exceeded 
our ability ; how unequal would this have been to our wants I* 
No economy could have made it bear any proportion, especially 
if we recur to the causes already enumerated, by which the cur 
rency depreciated in its first stages. 

From these reasonings it results, that it was not in the power 
of Congress, when their emissions had arrived at the thirty mil 
lions of dollars, to put a stop to them.f They were obliged, in 
order to keep up the supplies, to go on creating artificial reve 
nues by new emissions ; and as these multiplied, their value 
declined. The progress of the depreciation might have been 
retarded, but it could not have been prevented. It was, in a 
great degree, necessary. 

There was but one remedy ; a foreign loan. All other expe 
dients should rather have been considered as auxiliary. Could 

* This will appear, by recurring to our expenses in the commencement of the 
war, before the money was depreciated. In 75, which was only three-fourths of a 
year, the emissions amounted to seven millions of dollars : in 76, to fourteen mil 
lions. The war did not begin, in earnest, till 76. 

t This is meant, without employing the assistance of a foreign loan, and of 
other expedients beside borrowing and taxing. 

120 HAMILTON'S. WORKS. [^Ex. 23. 

a loan have been obtained, and judiciously applied, assisted by a 
vigorous system of taxation, we might have avoided that excess 
of emissions which has ruined the paper. The credit of such a 
fund would have procured loans from the moneyed and trading 
men within ourselves ; because it might have been so directed, 
as to have been beneficial to them in their commercial transac 
tions abroad.* 

The necessity for a foreign loan is now greater than ever. 
Nothing else will retrieve our affairs. 

The wheels of Government, without it, cannot much longer 
be kept in motion. Including Loan-office certificates, and State 
emissions, we have about four hundred millions of dollars in cir 
culation. The real value of these, is less than seven millions, 
which is the true circulating medium of these States : for though 
the price of specie is and the rate of exchange for sterling 

bills the nominal value of every commodity is at least 

sixty to one, on an average. All the reasonings against the pos 
sibility of raising the current expenses on the foundation of thirty 
millions, apply to our present situation in the ratio of thirty to 
seven ; that is, it is as thirty to seven less practicable now than 
when our emissions amounted to only thirty millions. Could 
every dollar in circulation be brought annually into the treasury, 
which never was effected in any country, and is politically im 
possible, the revenue would not be equal to the yearly expense. 

The hope of appreciating the money, by taxes and domestic 
loans, is at an end. As fast as it could be received, it must be 
issued in the daily expenditures. The momentary interval be 
tween its being drawn out of circulation and returning into it, 
would prevent its receiving the least advantage. 

These reasonings may appear useless, as the necessity of a 
foreign loan is now acknowledged, and measures are taking to 
procure it. But they are intended to establish good principles ; 
the want of which has brought us to the desperate crisis we are 
arrived at, and may still betray us into fatal mistakes. 

How this loan is to be employed, is now the question ; and 

* This will appear from the plan which will be proposed. 


its difficulty equal to its importance! Two plans have been 
proposed : one, to purchase up at once, in specie, or sterling bills, 
all superfluous paper; and to endeavor, by taxes, loans, and 
economy, to hinder its returning into circulation. The remain 
der, it is supposed, would then recover its value. This, it is said, 
will reduce our public debt to the sterling cost of the paper. 

Suppose two hundred millions were to be purchased, and the 
rest called in by taxes. At this would require bills 

to the amount of of dollars. But I doubt whether 

four times this sum would be sufficient. The moment it was 
known such purchases were to be made, the avarice of the specu 
lators would begin, to operate : the demand would immediately 
occasion an artificial appreciation ; each successive million would 
cost more than the preceding. But this appreciation would be 
more relative to the purchasing medium than to the prices of 
commodities. The raising the value of the paper relative to the 
former, would depend on the combination of a few artful indi 
viduals, and would be easily accomplished. The diminution of 
prices must be slow, as it implies a change in the sentiments of 
the body of the people with respect to the money. A sudden 
revolution in the general rates of all the necessaries of life is not 
to be expected. The prices of these, as they have reached their 
present summit by degrees, must, by degrees, revert to their 
former station. The minds of the people will not readily admit 
impressions in favor of the currency. All their past experience 
has given a habit of diffidence ; and the epidemical spirit of ex 
tortion will maintain a violent struggle with whatever has a ten 
dency to produce a fall of prices. A permanent reduction of the 
quantity of circulating cash, will alone gradually effect it. But 
this will not happen on the present plan. 

The necessity of continuing the supplies at nearly the same 
rates now given (which would be the case if my reasonings are 
true), would have nearly the same effect mentioned with respect 
to taxes and domestic loans. The money would return into cir 
culation almost as fast as it was drawn out : and at the end of the 
year we should find our treasury empty ; our foreign loan dissi 
pated ; and 4he state of our finances as deplorable as ever. At 

122 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [J T . 23. 

a moderate calculation, we should have spent ten or twelve mil 
lions of real dollars, for the sole purpose of carrying on the war 
another year. It would be much better, instead of purchasing 
up the paper currency, to purchase the supplies out of our specie 
or bills. In the first instance, the public would suffer a direct 
loss of the artificial appreciation, relative to the purchasing me 
dium : in the last, it would buy at the value of the commodities 
in specie or bills. 

A great source of error in disquisitions of this nature, is the 
judging of events by abstract calculations ; which, though geo 
metrically true, are false as they relate to the concerns of beings 
governed more by passion and prejudice, than by an enlightened 
sense of their interests. A degree of illusion mixes itself in all 
the affairs of society. The opinion of objects has more influence 
than their real nature. The quantity of money in circulation is 
certainly a chief cause of its decline : but we find it is deprecia 
ted more than five times as much as it ought to be by this rule. 
The excess is derived from opinion ; a want of confidence. In 
like manner we deceive ourselves, when we suppose the value 
will increase in proportion as the quantity is lessened. Opinion 
will operate here also ; and a thousand circumstances may pro 
mote or counteract the principle. 

The other plan proposed, is to convert the loan into merchan 
dise, and import it on public account. This plan is incomparably 
better than the former. Instead of losing on the sale of its spe 
cie or bills, the public would gain a considerable profit on the 
commodities imported. The loan would go much further this 
way, in supplying the expenses of the war ; and a large stock of 
valuable commodities, useful to the army and to the country, 
would be introduced. This would affect the prices of things in 
general, and assist the currency. But the arts of monopolizers 
would prevent its having so extensive and durable an influence 
as it ought to have. 

A great impediment to the success of this, as well as the for 
mer scheme, will be the vast sums requisite for the current ex 
penses. The arguments adduced in the former case are applica 
ble here also, though not with equal force. The .necessity the 

jEi. 23.] CORRESPONDENCE. 123 

public will be under of parting with its stock to defray the daily 
demands, will give designing men an opportunity, by combina 
tions not to purchase, to oblige it to sell at a rate below the real 
value of money. This they may the more easily effect, as the 
demand for foreign commodities is much less than formerly, on 
account of the general spirit of parsimony which has obtained 
from necessity, and the manufactures carried on in private fami 
lies for their own use. The greatest part of the country people 
now almost entirely clothe themselves. 

The public must either sell very cheap, to collect rapidly the 
superfluous paper in hopes of raising the value of the remainder ; 
or it must sell very slow, to preserve the due proportion l^tween 
the articles it has for sale and those it wants to buy. Bj pursu 
ing the first method, it will soon exhaust its stock at a very con 
siderable loss, and only give temporary relief to the currency. 
According to my principle, though it sells cheap, it must still 
buy dear ; and, consequently, the money collected cannot remain 
in the treasury long enough to preserve the rise in its appreciated 
state. If it pursues the second method, the expenditures will be 
equal to the income ; and though the public will make the natu 
ral profits on its goods, as it will lay up nothing, it will do noth 
ing towards the appreciation.* 

The farmers have the game in their own hands, and will 

* To form an idea of the effect of this plan, let it be supposed that the goods 
imported amount to two millions of pounds sterling, and that these sell at one 
hundred and fifty pounds in paper, for each pound sterling. The whole proceeds 
will be eight hundred millions of dollars : to these add two hundred millions, 
raised in taxes. There will then be in the hands of the public, one thousand mil 
lions of dollars ; which, at sixty to one, gives sixteen millions six hundred and six 
ty-six thousand six hundred and sixty-six and two-thirds of real dollars. Take 
the year 76 for a standard, and suppose fourteen millions of dollars to be the prop 
er annual expense of the war, which is only two millions six hundred and sixty-six 
thousand six hundred and sixty-six and two-thirds less than the whole amount 
of the goods and taxes. At this rate, the plan would do little more than defray 
the expenses of the war for one year. But this calculation is not exactly true ; be 
cause the money would certainly appreciate, in some degree, by the reduction of 
its quantity : yet, as this reduction would not last, at least in the same extent, to 
preserve the appreciation ; and as, in proportion to the appreciation, the price of 
goods must fall, and bring less money in, it is difficult to say whether it would not 
ultimately come to the same thing. 

124 HAMILTON'S WORKS. |>ET. 23. 

make it very difficult to lower the prices of their commodities. 
For want of laborers, there is no great superfluity of the most 
essential articles raised. These are things of absolute necessity, 
and must be purchased, as well by the other classes of socie 
ty as by the public. The farmers, on the contrary, if they do 
not like the price, are not obliged to sell ; because they have al 
most every necessary within themselves ; salt, and one or two 
more, excepted ; which bear a small proportion to what is wanted 
from them ; and ^hich they can obtain, by barter, for other arti 
cles equally indispensable. Heavy taxes, it may be said, will 
oblige them to sell ; but they can pay, with a small part of what 
they have, any taxes our legislatures will venture to impose, or 
would i5e able to enforce. 

One measure, alone, can counterbalance these advantages of 
the farmers, and oblige them to contribute their proper quota to 
the support of Government : a tax in kind. 

This ought instantly to begin throughout the States. The 
present quantity of cash, though nominally enormous, would, in 
reality, be found incompetent to domestic circulation, were it not 
that a great part of our internal commerce is carried on by bar 
ter. For this reason, it is impossible, by pecuniary taxes, to 
raise a sum proportioned to the wants of the State. The money 
is no longer a general representative ; and when it ceases to be 
so, the State ought to call for a portion of the thing represented ; 
or, in other words, to tax in kind. This will greatly facilitate 
whatever plan of finance is adopted ; because it will lessen the 
expenditures in cash, and make it the easier to retain what is 
drawn in. 

I said the demand for foreign goods is less than it formerly 
was. I mean there is not a demand for so large a quantity, which 
the reasons already assigned clearly demonstrate ; nor are the 
exorbitant rates now given any objection to this doctrine. 
There is an absolute scarcity even in comparison of the present 
consumption ; and, of course, a demand for what there is. But 
should an importation of two millions sterling take place, the 
market would be glutted ; and there would be no way of keep 
ing up the price, but by making very slow sales. A less quan- 


tity would stand no chance of calling in the money, and keeping 
it in long enough to effect any thing in favor of its credit. 

I say nothing about the risk of importation. I do not believe 
we could obtain a convoy sufficient to justify our hazarding it 
without the precaution of insurance. But with this expedient 
we are safe ; and must be satisfied with smaller profits for the 
sake of security. 

This is a plan not altogether to be rejected. With prudent 
management it might enable us to carry on the war two or three 
years (which, perhaps, is as long as it may last) ; but if we should 
expect more from it, the restoration of the currency, we should 
be disappointed. 

The only plan that can preserve the currency, is one that will 
make it the immediate interest of the moneyed men to co-operate 
with Government in its support. This country is in the same 
predicament in which France was previous to the famous Missis 
sippi scheme, projected by Mr. Law. Its paper money, like ours, 
had dwindled to nothing ; and no efforts of the Government 
could revive it, because the people had lost all confidence in its 
ability. Mr. Law, who had much more penetration than integri 
ty, readily perceived, that no plan could succeed which did not 
unite the interest and credit of rich individuals with those of the 
State ; and upon this, he framed the idea of his project, which, 
so far, agreed in principle with the Bank of England. The foun 
dation was good, but the superstructure too vast. The proprie 
tors aimed at unlimited wealth, and the Government itself ex 
pected too much ; which was the cause of the ultimate miscar 
riage of the scheme, and of all the mischiefs that befel the king 
dom in consequence. 

It will be our wisdom to select what is good in this plan, 
and in any others that have gone before us ; avoiding their de 
fects and excesses. Something on a similar principle in America, 
will alone accomplish the restoration of paper credit, and estab 
lish a permanent fund for the future exigencies of Government. 

Article I. The plan I would propose, is that of an American 
Bank, instituted by authority of Congress for ten years, under 
the denomination of The Bank of the United States. 


II. A foreign loan makes a necessary part of the plan ; but 
this I am persuaded we can obtain, if we pursue the proper mea 
sures. I shall suppose it to amount to two millions of pounds 
sterling. This loan to be thrown into the Bank as a part of its 

III. A subscription to be opened for two hundred millions 
of dollars ; and the subscribers erected into a Company, to be 

IV. The Government to guarantee this subscription money 
to the proprietors, at the rate of one for twenty ; that is, to 
engage, at the dissolution of the Bank, to make good to them 
the sum of ten millions of dollars, in lieu of the two hundred 
millions subscribed, payable in Spanish milled dollars, or a cur 
rency bona fide equivalent to them. 

"V. The tax"es raised in money annually, to be thrown into 

YI. All the remaining paper to be called in (at the option 
of the possessor), and bank notes issued in lieu of them, for so 
much sterling, payable to the bearer in three months from the 
date, at two per cent, per annum interest. A pound sterling to 
be estimated at two hundred and sixty-six and two-thirds of 
the present dollars. f The interest to be punctually paid in 
specie at the end of the three months ; when it shall be at the 
choice of the possessor to have the bank notes renewed, or to 
receive the sum deposited, in the old paper. 

VII. All the money issued from the Bank, to be of the 
same denomination, and on the same terms.:): 

* The taxes are made to increase every year, for the three years ; because 
the money in circulation increases, and, consequently, the people can afford to pay 

t This is sixty paper dollars to one dollar of four shillings and sixpence ster 
ling ; which is the real value of the money. But if it is apprehended that this may 
meet with opposition, let the valuation of the bank notes be the same as the price 
of European Bills of Exchange. Other operations must be regulated accordingly. 

$ The reason of this is, to preserve the idea of a Stock, and make it seem that 
the old paper is still in existence. But there is danger, notwithstanding the 
reasons to the contrary, that there may be a run upon the bank, from particular 
causes, which may embarrass it. It is not probable the old paper will be entirely, 
though nearly, called out of circulation : what remains, will appreciate : this may 


YIII. The Bank to furnish Congress with an annual loan 
of two millions sterling, if they have occasion for it, at four per 
cent, interest. 

IX. The whole, or such part of the stock as is judged 
necessary, to be employed in commerce, in the manner, and on 
the terms, which shall be agreed upon, from time to time, 
between the Company, and a Board of Trade to be appointed by 

X. The Bank to issue occasionally, by permission of Con 
gress, such sums as may be thought safe and expedient, in 
private loans, on good securities, at six per cent, interest. 

XI. The Government to share half the whole stock and 
profits of the Bank. 

XII. The Bank to be managed by the trustees of the Com 
pany, under the inspection of the Board of Trade,* who may 

tempt those who have bank notes, to demand payment on the terms of the original 
deposit ; without considering that, by bringing too great a quantity again into cir 
culation, it will again depreciate. The Bank may be pushed to a very disagreeable 
extremity by this means. I do not know whether it may not be advisable to confine 
the privilege of repayment to the lenders to the Bank, and make the bills bear 
interest, payable every three months, without making the principal demandable. 
Much may be said for and against. It is well worth consideration. 

* This board ought immediately to be established, at all events. The Royal 
Council of Commerce, in France, and the subordinate Chambers in each province, 
form an excellent institution, and may, in many respects, serve as a model. Con 
gress have too long neglected to organize a good scheme of administration, and 
throw public business into proper executive departments. For Commerce, I prefer 
a Board ; but for most other things, single men. We want a Minister of War, a 
Minister of Foreign Affairs, a Minister of Finance, and a Minister of Marine. 
There is always more decision, more dispatch, more secrecy, more responsibility, 
where single men, than where bodies are concerned. By a plan of this kind, we 
should^blend the advantages of a Monarchy and of a Republic, in a happy and bene 
ficial union. Men will only devote their lives and attentions to the mastering a 
profession, on which they can build reputation and consequence which they do not 
share with others. 

If this plan should be approved, Congress ought immediately to appoint a 
Minister of Finance, under whatsoever title they think proper, and charge him 
with its execution. He ought to be a man of ability, to comprehend it in all its 
consequences ; and of eloquence, to make others comprehend and relish it. He 
ought, beside, to have some general knowledge of the science. This man ought 
immediately to address himself to some of the most sensible moneyed men ; and 

128 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [^Ei. 23. 

have recourse to the Company books whenever they think pro 
per, to examine the state of its affairs. The same is done in 
England, and in other countries where Banks are established, 
and is a privilege which the Government has a right to demand 
for its own security. It is the more necessary in this case, from 
the commercial nature of the Bank. 
To give an idea of the advantages 

[Here a part of the manuscript is missing.] 

which, having all the operation of money, and of a more advan 
tageous kind than that which the lenders have parted with, will 
have all the efficacy of a payment. It is for this reason they 
are made to bear interest : and there can be no doubt, that every 
man will prefer a species of money which answers all the pur 
poses of a currency, and even, when lying idle, brings in a profit 
to the- possessor. The same consideration will prevent the 
lenders recalling the old paper, at the quarterly payments ; be 
cause they hold a more valuable property instead of it. The 
interest is to be paid in specie, as a further temptation, for which 
a small sum will suffice. The denomination of the money is 
altered ; because it will produce a useful illusion. Mankind are 
much led by sounds and appearances ; and the currency having 
changed its name, will seem to have changed its nature. 

The Bank will advance bills to the amount of two millions 
of pounds sterling to Congress ; and, in addition to its stock, will 

endeavor to convince them of the utility of the project. These must engage others, 
and so on, till a sufficient number is engaged. 

Then Congress must establish the Bank, and set it agoing. I know of no man 
that has better pretensions than yourself; and I shall be very happy to hear that 
Congress have said, " Thou art the man." 

I had like to have omitted one remark, which is, that the subscription 
money may be guaranteed, if necessary, at 10 to 1, as a greater inducement. 
This will only be twenty millions of dollars, or five millions of pounds sterling ; 
a cheap bargain to get rid of the perplexities we labor under, and convert the 
torrent of ideal money into a moderate, but sufficient, stream, to supply the real 
wants of the State. Congress, no doubt, would be able to borrow enough abroad 
to pay this debt, if it should not find better means within itself. But I shall be 
much mistaken, if the proprietors will desire to be repaid, and not prefer continu 
ing the loan to Government on reasonable terms. 


now have a debt due it of this sum, which is to be considered as 
so much gained. 

[Here a part of the manuscript is missing.] 

Brought over, . ''";_ J ; v ' J - v r . . 7,075,000 

To be deducted, 

Drawn out of circulation, by the sale of 

goods imported, '.* . : : v v .^'F 4,000,000 
By govermental taxes, supposed to be, 1,000,0005,000,000 

Kemaining in circulation the fourth year, : ; ; 2,075,000 

This will be less than the preceding, which is occasioned by 
the million supposed to be drawn in by taxes. 

The national debt, on this plan, will stand thus, at the end of 
three years : 

Foreign loan, . #fj . , &$ v, * &nq on r f 2,000,000 
Domestic loan, at two millions per annum, -;- p 6,000,000 
Interest, at four per cent., . /^ l . .:,;; 320,000 

Half the value of the Bank, . .^ I ; > . , . , 7,900,000 

Balance against the United States, . ,..T, ,.r. r , , 420,000 

We may, therefore, by means of this establishment, carry on 
the war three years, and only incur a debt of four hundred and 
twenty thousand pounds over and above the guarantee of the 
subscription money ; which, however, is not to be paid till the 
end of ten years. 

I have said, in one place, that abstract calculations, in ques 
tions of finance, are not to be relied on: and as the complex 
operations of trade are involved in the present plan, I am, myself, 
diffident of those flattering results which it presents at every step. 
I am aware how apt the imagination is to be heated in projects 
of this nature, and to overlook the fallacies which often lurk in 

VOL. I. 9 


first principles. But when I consider, on the other hand, that 
the scheme stands on the firm footing of public and private faith ; 
that it links the interest of the State in an intimate connection 
with those of the rich individuals belonging to it ; that it turns 
the wealth and influence of both into a commercial channel, for 
mutual benefit, which must afford advantages not to be estima 
ted ; that there is a defect of circulating medium, which this 
plan supplies, by a sort of creative power ; converting what is so 
produced into a real and efficacious instrument of trade ; I say, 
when I consider these things, and many more that might be 
added, I cannot forbear feeling a degree of confidence in the plan ; 
and, at least, hoping that it is capable of being improved into 
something that will give relief to our finances. 

I do not believe, that the advantages will be so great in fact, 
as they seem to be in speculation. They will be limited by 
the means of commerce which the States produce ; and these 
may not be so extensive in the beginning as the plan supposes. 
Beside this, the profits of the commerce will not be so large, in 
proportion, after the first or second year, as during those years : 
neither will it be possible to increase the paper credit in the same 
degree. But the Bank of England is a striking example, how 
far this may be carried, when supported by public authority and 
private influence. On the other hand, a variety of secondary 
expedients may be invented, to enlarge the advantages of the 
bank. The whole system of annuities, as practised in England, 
may be ingrafted upon it, with such differences as are proper to 
accommodate it to our circumstances. The European loan may 
also be converted into a European Bank, the interests of which, 
being interwoven with the American Bank, may engage rich 
individuals there in promoting and extending the plan. 

Yery beneficial contracts may be made between Government 
and the Company, for supplying the army, by which money may 
be saved to the public, the army better furnished, and the profits 
of the bank extended. 

I have confined the Bank to the space of ten years ; because 
this will be long enough to judge of its advantages and disadvan 
tages : and the latter may be rectified by giving it a new form. 

jEi. 23.] CORRESPONDENCE. 131 

I do not suppose it will ever be discontinued ; because it seems 
to be founded on principles that must always operate well, and 
make it the interest, both of Government and the Company, to 
uphold it. But I suppose the plan capable of improvement, 
which experience will suggest. 

I give one half of the whole property of the Bank to the 
United States ; because it is not only just, but desirable to both 
parties. The United States contribute a great part of the stock ; 
their authority is essential to the existence of the Bank ; their 
credit is pledged for its support. The plan would ultimately fail, 
if the terms were too favorable to the Company, and too hard 
upon Government. It might be encumbered with a debt which 
it could never pay, and be obliged to take refuge in a bankrupt 
cy. The share which the State has in the profits, will induce it 
to grant more ample privileges, without which the trade of the 
Company might often be under restrictions injurious to its suc 

It is not, perhaps, absolutely necessary that the sum sub 
scribed should be so considerable as I have stated it, though the 
larger the better. It is only necessary it should be considerable 
enough to engage a sufficient number of the principal moneyed 
men in the scheme. But Congress must take care to proportion 
the advantages they give and receive. 

It may be objected, that this plan will be prejudicial to trade, 
by making the Government a party with a trading Company ; 
which may be a temptation to arrogate exclusive privileges, and 
thereby fetter that spirit of enterprise and competition, on which 
the prosperity of commerce depends. But Congress may satisfy 
the jealousies on this head, by a solemn resolution not to grant 
exclusive privileges, which alone can make the objection valid. 
Large trading Companies must be beneficial to the commerce of 
a nation, when they are not invested with these, because they 
furnish a capital with which the most extensive enterprises may 
be undertaken. There is no doubt the establishment proposed 
would be very serviceable at this juncture, merely in a commer 
cial view ; for private adventurers are not a match for the numer 
ous obstacles resulting from the present posture of affairs. 

132 HAMILTON'S WORKS. ^T. 23. 

The present plan is the product of some reading on the sub 
jects of commerce and finance, and of occasional reflections on our 
particular situation : but a want of leisure has prevented its being 
examined in so many lights, and digested so materially, as its 
importance requires. If the outlines are thought worthy of 
attention, and any difficulties occur which demand explanation : 
or if the plan be approved, and the further thoughts of the writer 
are desired ; a letter directed to James Montague, Esquire, lodged 
in the post-office at Morristown, will be a safe channel of any 
communications you may think proper to make ; and an imme 
diate answer will be given. Though the writer has reasons 
which make him unwilling to be known ; if a personal confer- 
^ence with him should be thought material, he will endeavor to 

You will consider this as a hasty production, and excuse the 
incorrectnesses with which it abounds. 

I am, Sir, very respectfully, 

Your most obedient and humble servant. 


AMBOY, March 17, 1780. 


I duly received your letter of the fourteenth, and shall not 
fail, in conjunction with General St. Clair, to attend to the mili 
tary object of it. I am much obliged to your Excellency for the 
communication of your Southern advices. The enemy are still 
in the dark about their fleet and army gone that way, as we 
gather from the commissioners. They pretend to have little 
European news, though a vessel arrived two or three days since 
from England, after ten weeks passage. We send you some late 
New- York papers. 

The commission has been several days at an end. The 
enemy, as was supposed, had no idea of treating on national 
ground. We are now in private conversation, and so far not 


without hopes that the liberation of our prisoners will be effected 
on admissible terms. Two or three days more will probably put 
an end to the interview. General St. Glair and Colonel Carring- 
ton, beg their respects may be presented to your Excellency. 
I have the honor to be, 

Very respectfully and affectionately, 

Your Excellency's most ob't servant, 



PHILADELPHIA, 21 March, 1780. 


Quoique je compte partir pour le camp dans peu de jours, la 
crainte d' etre encore retenu plus longtemps que je ne voudrais, 
(comme je le suis depuis un mois), me fait prendre le parti de 
vous ecrire quelque chose qui me semble d'une certaine import 
ance que me concerne. Hier j'ais appris qu'il y a une quinzaine 
de jours hors de la nouvelle de 1' arrive*e des Anglais, une mem- 
bre du Congres Kepresanta dans le Congres, qu'il serait apropos 
de m'envoyer en Caroline avec la plus grande hate. II fonda sa 
demande sur les choses avantageuses qu'il avait entendu dire de 
moi, etc., etc. II voulait que le Congres me donnat sur le 
champ des ordres, et que je partisse sans delai. J'ignore quel 
est le membre qui a fait cette proposition, seulement je conjec 
ture que c'est quelque delegue des Etats du sud. On lui a re- 
pondu, que c'etait au Commandant-en- Chef qu'il appartenait de 
faire une telle chose, que le Congres ne pouvait pas savoir s'il 
n' avait pas quelque r|iison de me retenir a son Armee, quoique 
dans la circonstance presente, il parut effectivement que je serais 
plus utile au sud, en un mot que ^attention avec la quelle le Com 
mandant-en- Chef veillait au salut de I'etatnepermettaitpas de douter 
qu'il n' employ At tous les moyens qui &taient en son pouvoir, et que les 
circonstances permettaient. 

II est tres agreable, mon cher Colonel, d'etre le sujet d'une 
aussi belle phrase, mais je suis fach6 que la chose ait tourne 


ainsi ; je suis aussi tres fache de n'avoir pas su tout cela 
dans le temps pour vous le mander. Car il etait encore temps 
dors d'aller dans le sud; maintenant je ne sais plus que desirer. 
Cependant hier 1'on nous debitait que des vaisseaux de transport 
servantes de vaisseaux de guerre etaient arrivees a New- York 
pour prendre des Eenforts ; si cela etait si confirme, il'y aurait 
apparence que les Anglais ne se proposaient pas de commencer 
leurs operations avant 1'arrivee de ces Eenforts, alors ce serait 
peut e'tre le cas d'y aller. Je laisse tout cela a faire a votre pru 
dence, et a votre amitie", vous savez une partie des raisons que 
j'ai toujours eu et que j'ai encore de ne point faire de demande a 
ce sujet au General Washington, mais vous savez aussi combien 
je desire d'aller au Caroline. S'il y'a quelque apparence que je 
puisse y arriver a temps, je ne vais pas d'inconvenient a ceque 
vous faisiez usage aupres du General de ce qui c'est passe dans 
le Congres, parceque plusieurs membres de Congres 1'ont deja 
dit a differentes personnes. 

(Si vous voulez ensuite que je vous parle comme a mon ami, 
je vous dirai que j'ai eu lieu de voir que de m'envoyer la bas, 
aurait fait un fort bon effet ici, surtout dans le commencement.) 

Supposez done, que notre General jugeat par des circon- 
stances ulterieures qu'il peut encore etre temps de m'y envoyer, 
comme il ne faut pas perdre un moment, il serait bon que je 
ne fusse pas oblige de retourner au camp. Pour cela il faudrait 
m'envoyer avec les ordres, toutes les lettres necessaires pour le 
General Lincoln et autres. Vous savez, mon cher Colonel, ce 
que je desire a cet gard. Si je vas la bas, il faut que mon 
arrivee soit comme un de ces accidens au theatre qui reveille les 
spectateurs, et redonne de 1'activite et de la chaleur a la piece, 
vous m'entendez. 

Je crois que dans ce cas le General doit ecrire au Congres, 
outre les raisons qu'il a de m'envoyer pour le prier de me faire 
donner tous les moyens necessaires pour faire diligence. 

Enfin, prenez bien garde a ceci, mon cher Colonel, si vous 
m'envoyez des ordres, sitot que cela sera decide, envoyez cher- 
cher Monsieur de 1'Estaing, mon Aid-de-Camp, et dites lui s'il 
vous plait de faire partir sur le champ ma malle et la sienne sur 


un waggon du quartier maitre, s'il y en a qui partant sur le 
champ, sinon sur mon propre waggon : qu'il n'oublie pas surtout 
mes papiers. II peut ensuite venir apres lui meme et m'apporter 
les lettres du General. II faut qu'il fasse diligence ; je ne puis 
partir sans differentes choses qui sont dans ma malle ; qu'il se 
munisse lui meme de ce qu'il lui faut. Mon adresse ici est: 
Mrs. Sword in Logan Alley, Second-street. 

Je ne partirais point d'ici avant lundi prochain afin d'attendre 
votre reponse. 

J'ai 1'honneur d'etre, mon cher Colonel, 
Avec le plus parfait attachment, 

Yotre tres humble et tres obeissant servant, 

Col. Hamilton. 


PHILADELPHIA, April 8, 1780. 


* * * * * * You have been mentioned in private conversa 
tion to go as Secretary to the Embassy at the Court of Versailles ; 
there is but one obstacle which prevents me from making up my 
mind on the subject ; that you will know when I have the plea 
sure of seeing you. In the mean time revolve the matter in 

The pride, the folly, and perhaps, too, the wickedness of some 
on a certain floor, combine to frustrate every intention to pro 
mote the public weal, and relieve my amiable Chief from his 
well-grounded anxiety ; the few that feel for him, and are alarmed 
at the critical state of our public affairs, in every department, 
within as well as without, have not been able to carry a measure 
which they believed would have had salutary consequences. 
They have now proposed that a Committee should repair to head 
quarters, invested conjointly with the General, with a kind of 
dictatorial power, in order to afford satisfaction to the army, 
and to arrange the great departments thereof. Livingston, Els- 

136 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [&T. 23. 

worth, and Matthews, are appointed to prepare Instructions. 
Some good may result, if gentlemen who love the General, are 
not jealous of the army, and of a generous turn are sent; but 
should General Sherman be at the head of the Triumviri, the 
General will be tormented with a thousand little propositions 
which Eoger has thrown together, and which he entitles a Sys 
tem. I shall not be sent on this business, " because, it would 
not be proper to send a person who, as he has been in the army, 
will probably have a bias in its favor." This reasoning is con 

Beware of communications to this quarter, which you would 
not wish the world to know ; this hint will prevent you from 
writing but by a safe hand. 

It is amusing to observe the effect Sir Harry Clinton's private 
No. 15 has. The Southernites have their spirits much raised by 
it. The Northerns look big, and the enemy's distress is owing 
to their virtue and exertions. They wish for the 12,000 Hessians 
to have the pleasure of devouring them. The war is to be at an 
end next winter, and as they wish to conclude handsomely, they 
will insist that their constituents complete their quotas without 
delay, and furnish aids of money, &c. En verite there are only 
two or three of the club who believe the letter spurious, but two 
who are decidedly of that opinion. 

My best wishes to all at head quarters. 

I am, dear Sir, sincerely yours, 


Col. Hamilton. 


May 10, 1780. 


General Knox, in conversation, has observed to the General, 
that instead of sending to Philadelphia for the fifteen hundred 
arms mentioned in your letter of the sixth, and sending those 
here to that place to be fitted, it would be a great saving of ex- 


pense, in the article of transportation, to have the bayonets and 
accoutrements brought on without the arms, and fitted to those 
now here ; which can easily be done at the Park. The question 
is, if the arms here have no other defect than want of bayonets. 
The General will be glad to know what you think of General 
Knox's proposal. It seems to him eligible, unless there are rea 
sons he is not acquainted with. 

If there are any other articles you wish to have sent for (the 
General thinks you mentioned something of the kind to him), he 
will be glad to know what they are. 

We have heard from the Marquis. He will be here at din 
ner. Will you dine with us also ? The General requests it. 
I have the honor to be, dear Baron, 

Your very humble servant, 



May 14, 1780. 


This will be handed you by the Marquis, who brings us very 
important intelligence. The General communicates the substance 
of it in a private letter to you, and proposes a measure which all 
deem essential. For God's sake, my dear sir, engage Congress 
to adopt it, and come to a speedy decision. We have not a mo 
ment to lose. Were we to improve every instant of the interval, 
we should have too little time for what we have to do. The ex 
pected succor may arrive in the beginning of June, in all proba 
bility it will not be later than the middle. In the last case we 
have not a month to make our preparations in, and in this short 
period we must collect men, form magazines, and do a thousand 
things of as much difficulty as importance. The propriety of the 
measure proposed is so obvious, that an hour ought to decide it, 
and if any new members are to come, they ought to set out 
instantly with all expedition for head quarters. 

138 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [JEr. 23. 

Allow me, my dear sir, to give you a hint. The General 
will often be glad to consult the Committee on particular points, 
but it will be inexpedient that he should be obliged to do it 
oftener than he thinks proper, or any peculiar case may require. 
Their powers should be formed accordingly. It is the essence of 
many military operations, that they should be trusted to as few 
as possible. 

The Marquis has a title to all the love of all America ; but 
you know he has a thousand little whims to satisfy ; one of these 
he will have me to write to some friend in Congress about. He 
is desirous of having the Captain of the frigate in which he came 
complimented ; and gives several pretty instances of his punctu 
ality and disinterestedness. He wishes Congress to pass some 
resolutions of thanks, and to recommend him to their Minister 
in France, to be recommended to the French Court. The first of 
these is practicable. The last I think might have an officious 
appearance. The essential services the Marquis has rendered 
America in France, give him a claim for all that can be done 
with propriety ; but Congress must not commit themselves. 

Again, my dear sir, I must entreat you to use the spur on 
the present occasion. The fate of America is perhaps suspended 
on the issue ; if we are found unprepared, it must disgrace us in 
the eyes of all Europe, besides defeating the good intentions of 
our allies, and losing the happiest opportunity we ever have had 
to save ourselves. Adieu, my dear Sir. 

Believe me to be, with the truest respect and affection, 
Your most obed't servant, 


Hon. James Duane, Philadelphia. 
Honored by Marquis De Lafayette. 



June 7, 1780. 


I am commanded by the General to inform you, that the ene 
my are out in considerable force ; and, by the last advice, were 
advancing this way. We are going to meet them. The General 
is just set out for Chatham, and will be happy to meet you there. 

Yours, respectfully, 



June 8, 1780. 


I have seen the enemy. Those in view I calculate at about 
three thousand : there may be, and probably enough are, others 
out of sight. They have sent all their horse to the other side, 
except about fifty or sixty. Their baggage, it is agreed on all 
hands, has also been sent across, and their wounded. It is not 
ascertained that any of their infantry have passed to the other 
side. There are four or five hundred on the opposite point ; but 
it is uncertain whether they are those who went from this side, 
or those who were on Staten Island. I rather suppose the 

Different conjectures may be made. The present movement 
may be calculated to draw us down and betray us into an action. 
They may have desisted from their intention of passing till night, 
for fear of our falling upon their rear. I believe this is the case : 
for as they have but few boats, it would certainly be a delicate 
manoeuvre to cross in our face. We are taking measures to 
watch their motions to-night, as closely as possible. An inces 
sant but very light skirmishing. Yery few boats, not more than 
enough to carry three or four hundred men at a time. It is 
likely more will come down this evening. 

I have the honor to be, 

Your Excellency's most obedient servant, 


140 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [Mr. 23. 


Au CAP HENRY, le 13 Juin, 1780. 


Je suis envoye par le Gre'ne'ral Washington au Cap Henry 
pour y attendre votre escadre et vous remettre ainsi qu' a Mon 
sieur le Comte de Rochambau, les depeches de Monsieur le Mar 
quis de La Fayette ces depeches, Monsieur le Chevalier, con- 
tiennent le plan d' operations que le General "Washington a 
1'honneur de vous proposer, la situation des ennemies et la notre 
relativement aux forces respectives des deux parties, aux points 
occupes, aux moyens de subsistance et cetera ; tous les change- 
mens qui pouvraient survenir sur ces objets doivent m' etre com 
muniques, afin qu' a votre arrivee vous puissiez avoir sous les 
yeux le plus de donne"es possibles. Les memes details vous at- 
tendent a Rhode Island, et si vous ne devez les rec.evoir qu' 
apres etre arrive, il est presque indifferent, Monsieur le Chevalier, 
que votre escadre atterisse a Rhode Island ou au Cap Henry ; 
mais il y a. des circonstances qui, si elles vous etaient connues? 
tendraient peut etre a vous determiner plustot pour 1'un de ces 
points que pour 1'autre, ou meme pour un troisieme point que 
vos instructions n'ont pu prevoir. C'est pour vous rendre 
compte de ces circonstances que j e saisis 1'occasion du fier Rod- 
rique; heureux si, dans une conjuncture ou les moments sont 
d'une si grande importance, cette lettre peut anticiper de quelques 
jours vos dispositions. 

1. Par le plan propose* a vous, Monsieur le Chevalier, et a 
Monsieur le Comte de Rochambau, les efforts combine's de I'arme'e 
Fran^aise et Americaine doivent se porter sur New- York, et vous 
etes instamment prie de vous rendre immediatement a Sandy 

2. Suivant les informations qui m' ont ete recemment four- 
nies par le Grouverneur de la Yirginie, la ville de Charlestown 
est prise ; les ennemis embarquent une partie des troupes qui en 
ont fait la Conquete, et d'apres la certitude ou nous sommes que 
la destination de votre escadre leur est connue, il semble que cet 


embarquement pourrait bien avoir pour objet de renforcer la 
garnison de New- York. 

3. La somme de leurs forces navales sur ce continent se 
borne a trois yaisseaux de ligne, un de 50 canons, deux de 44, et 
quelques fregates a Charlestown ; un vaisseau de 74 et quelques 
fregates, sortis de New- York depuis trois semaines et dont nous 
ignorons la destination. 

Ainsi, Monsieur le Chevalier, la premiere de ces considera 
tions vous invite a Sandy Hook ; la seconde reclame votre atterrage 
sur un point d'ou vous puissiez etre en mesure d'intercepter les 
Secours destines pour New- York, et la troisieme vous offre un 
terme de comparaison entre la plus grande force qui puisse escor- 
ter ces secours, et cette avec laquelle vous pouvez les attaquer. 
II est encore a observer qu' excepte les trois vaisseaux de ligne, 
tous les autres (a Charlestown) sont dans le port, et que les plus 
gros n'en peuvent sortir, qu apres avoir e"te ale"ges, et avec la 
concurrence d'une haute marree et d'un vent propice. 

Telles sont, Monsieur le Chevalier, les choses dont ma mis 
sion a pour objet de vous rendre compte, et comme il est de toute 
importance que ces informations vous parviennent le plus tot 
possible, j'ai cru ne pas devoir ne"gliger la probabilite, qui s'onre 
de les faire devancer votre arrivee. 

En supposant, Monsieur le Chevalier, que le fier Eodrique 
vous rencontre et que vous jugiez a propos de vous rendre en 
droiture a Sandy Hook, il est un moyen de faire que les depech- 
es qui vous attendent a Khode Island et du Cap Henry vous 
parviennent aussi promptement qui si vous aviez atterri a 1'un de 
ces deux points : ce serait de depecher, vers 1'un ou 1'autre, 1'un de 
vos plus legers vaisseaux qui recevrait a son bord 1'omcier charge 
de ces de"peches, etvousiraitrejoindre vers Sandy Hook, ou vrais- 
emblablement il se rendrait aussitot que votre flotte, ou du moins 
beaucoup plustot que les reponses de Ge"ne*ral "Washington ou 
de Monsieur le Marquis de La Fayette, aux lettres qui leur an- 
nonceraient votre arrivee. 

Si le Cap Henry etait le point choisi, j'oserais vous prier, 
Monsieur le Chevalier, afin d'eviter tous delais, d'ordonner qu'a 
la vue, du signal que vous savez, le vaisseau y reponde par un 


signal contraire, je veux dire en avertissant la position des pa 
vilions ; qu'il envoie sa chaloupe a terre avec un officier muni des 
mots de reconnaissance ; que cet officier me donne la premiere 
partie de ces mots et regoive de moi la seconde. Par la je crois, 
Monsieur le Chevalier, que toute possibilite de surprise est sauvee, 
de part et d'autre, sans qu'il j ait un seul instant de perdre par 
le Ce"re"monial de la reconnaissance. 

Je suis, &c. &c. &c. 

A Monsieur le Chevalier de Ternay. 


WHIPPANY, June 25, 1780. 


The enemy, the day before yesterday, made a forward move 
ment to Springfield, which they burnt, and retired to Elizabeth- 
town Point. The same evening they crossed over to Staten 
Island ; and there are a great many concurring circumstances 
which make it probable we shall next hear of them on the North 
Eiver. As you are at "West Point, the General wishes you to 
remain there until the present appearances come to some result. 
He has confidence in your judgment, and wishes you to give 
your advice and assistance to the commanding officer. As you 
have no command in the post, you can only do this in a private 
friendly way : but I dare say General Howe will be happy to 
consult you. You will consider this as a private letter, in which 
I rather convey you the General's wishes than his commands. 

All the army is in march toward you, and will be at Pomp- 
ton this evening. 

I have the honor to be, 

Yery respectfully and affectionately, 
Your humble servant, 




HEAD-QUARTERS, RAMAPO, June 30, 1780. 

Agreeably to your request, my dear Baron, I communicated 
your project to the General. Happily the inactivity of the ene 
my has given us time to make dispositions which render the call 
ing out of the militia unnecessary ; and the whole has been ac 
cordingly countermanded. 

The General requests that when you have completed the ob 
ject of your errand in your department, and put things in train, 
you will rejoin the army. 

I wrote you a line from Whippany, of which you made no 


I have the honor to be, yours, 

A. H. 


HEAD-QUARTERS, July 23, 1780. 

I have received, my dear Baron, your two letters of the six 
teenth and eighteenth. On the formation of the Light Infantry, 
the General has already written to you. I presume it will be, 
ultimately, nearly as you have proposed. 

Smith set out, some days since, to join you. Bradford, I am 
told, is undecided about entering into the office. Col. Scammel 
has promised to bring him to me ; and if he accepts, we will for 
ward him. I believe Prescott will be appointed in the Light In- 
antry. Entre nous, 'tis not easy to find good Majors for this 
corps in the Massachusetts Line ; and as it will act a good deal 
with the French troops, we wish it (for this additional reason) to 
be well officered. Prescott will answer the purpose : but he is 
not yet to know that he is in contemplation. We shall not long 
continue in our present position. The distinctions of depart 
ments are an old story, which now do not exist except with re- 

144 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [Mi. 23. 

spect to South. Carolina. You are with, a detachment of the 
main army. 

I dare say all you are doing will be found right. I shall join 
my beau-pere to save you from the cord. The arrangement for 
your department was unfortunately sent to Congress soon after 
you went from here ; with the most pressing instances to deter 
mine upon it without delay. We have heard nothing of it since. 
We have repeated our prayers and exhortations. If we get no 
answer in three or four days, we must determine for ourselves. 

Major Francis is returned from Philadelphia ; but I have not 
seen him since the arrival of your letters. I will move the in 
quiry you wish, when I see him. Can you do any thing for him 
in your department ? 

A severe stroke upon us, is, that our arms, expected from 
France, are not arrived. I do not know how we shall be able to 
arm our recruits. 

Graves sailed from the Hook the nineteenth. We had been 
playing off and on two days. 

Adieu, my dear Baron, and believe me always, with the most 
respectful attachment, 

Your humble servant, 
A. H. 


WEST POINT, August 13, 1780. 


I cannot help laying before you a few of my thoughts, which 
lately have engrossed my whole attention, on the review of our 
changeable government at West Point. However, I hope you 
will make no other use of them but such as may be of advan 
tage ; and whatever may be improper, or improperly stated, im 
pute to my inability only : and there you will please to let it 
rest, and take in good part what I shall say, as it proceeds from 
a zeal of affection to you, and from a regard to the cause I am 
engaged in. On this consideration you will excuse me, if any 


where I should seem to exceed those bounds which custom has 
prescribed to subalterns, when they treat of any thing, or adopt 
modes, to their superiors. 

A continual change of commanding officers, or command 
ants, is, in my humble opinion, injurious to this post, and hurtful 
to the military duty, so absolutely requisite to be performed, and 
preserved in a garrison. As there is no nation at war which 
pursues the like mode excepting us ; I am therefore induced, not 
only from this consideration, but from weighty experience dur 
ing my station at this post, to offer an opinion of its improprie 
ty, and bad consequences. The visible ill it creates ; the damage 
to innumerable things ; the irregularity it continually causes ; 
and lastly, the total loss of the many thousands which have been, 
and daily are, expended on this national fabric, which inevitably 
must fall to pieces, unless an officer is fixed to this post (and who 
ought to be a competent judge of fortifications, and a military 
man), are matters which, I think, demand consideration. 

A Town-Major, and a good Barrack-Master, are as necessary 
here, as the necessaries of life are. The former to regulate the 
duty and to keep up discipline in this jurisdiction: the latter to 
take care of the buildings, which must otherwise be destroyed. 
The next thing which falls to our attention, is the public pro 
vision, which has been, and daily is, exposed here to be lost, to 
be stolen, and to be damaged, for want of sufficient shelter and 
proper repositories. The troops have suffered, and still suffer, 
from these and other causes. They have been cheated in 
weights, in measure, and in their scanty allowance of fatigue 
rum ; which I can attest, by being appointed, after my having 
represented the matter to General M'Dougall, to inspect into 
some of those abuses. Notwithstanding the many thousands of 
boards which came here, there are not sufficient for barracks, 
bunks, etc. For as fast as one thing is built up, another is torn 
down again. There is not, in all this garrison, a proper guard 
house for the conveniency of soldiers, nor for the security of the 
criminals. No powder magazine, nor a store for the reception 
and reserve of the implements of war. In short, the whole 
appears, at present, under the care of ungovernable and undis- 

VOL. I. 10 

146 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [J&T. 23. 

ciplined militia, like a wild Tartar's camp, instead of that shining 
fortification all America thinks not only an insurmountable 
barrier against the incursion of its enemy, but likewise an easy 
defence in case of an unforeseen disaster of its army. 

However, to return to my subject. The importance of those 
heads already mentioned, and their- connection with those pre 
ceding, will, I hope, obtain your pardon for the digression into 
which they have led me ; and to your discretion I shall leave 
what I state. 

In a letter I wrote to General Knox some time last winter, 
among many things I had to say concerning the ordnance and 
myself, I made this remark, tawit : " That relieving of an officer 
from a garrison, is not like a relief in the field : for an officer 
who knows himself to be relieved, will leave many things un 
done for the next to do ; which I have seen, heard, and experi 
enced. Beside, after once every thing is to rights, the men then 
ought to desist from labor, and exercise the guns. But new 
commanding officers have chiefly new systems of defence, which 
add labor to labor, and nothing will be formed systematically." 

I have already stated these and more things minutely to the 
general officers here, who all agreed in their validity and pro 
priety. But they, being all liable to immediate removal, there 
cannot be any thing formed into a permanent and regular system. 
Moreover, I have been informed, that owing to the mismanage 
ment of their predecessors, they were obliged, after they had 
taken the command, to hunt for materials in order to build their 
own systems ; and to issue orders upon orders, to acquaint them 
selves with those persons who have, as it were, in keeping, the 
several branches which flow into this department. 

And let me once more, in confidence, assure you, that I 
suffer incessant pain from the sad state this garrison is in. To 
rectify defects, my dear sir, when roused to arms, can never be 
attainable. Therefore let me beg you to assist in adopting some 
plan which may be soldierly, for the good of the service : which, 
however, can be done in no other manner, but such as I have 
hinted to you. For let General Arnold have all the sagacity 
imaginable, it will take him some time to get himself well 


acquainted with the position and defence of this post ; especially 
as there is not one single Continental officer left here who can in 
any way assist him. Every thing seems new here ; and the very 
engineer is transferred from hence, on whom he, in some mea 
sure, could have depended for information, with regard to the 
weakest and strongest parts of this fortress. And I have not yet 
told you the one hundredth part of what I have to say upon 
some of these subjects; but I shall finish with prognosticating, 
that should ever capriciousness hold sway here, it may prove fatal 
to this post. 

I am, with due respect, Sir, 

Your most humble servant, 


Major of Artillery. 


PHILADELPHIA, 21 Aout, 1780. 

Je viens de recevoir mon cher Colonel votre lettre du 17 de 
ce mois. Vous m'y parlez de mes Freres comme si vous etiez 
sur qu'ils sont en effet prissonniers. Avez-vous sur cet article 
plus de connaissance que je n'en ai, on m'avez vous deja ecrit 
a ce sujet quelque lettre qui ne me serait point parvenue. Je 
vais e"crire a M. de Ternay a ce sujet, mais en attendence je 
vous prie de vouloir bien me communiquer tous les e"claircisse- 
ments que vous aurez pu vous procurer, et 'detre persuade que 
rien ne me touche plus que de leur procurer de soulagement 
s'ils sont en effet entre les mains de 1'ennemi. 

Si vous avez quelques nouvelles dernieres touchant 1'embar- 
cation que M. le General Clinton prepare, je vous prie de vouloir 
bien m'en instruire, cet article etant de la plus grande impor 
tance pour nous. Je vous embrasse de tout mon coeur. 

Col. Hamilton. 

148 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [Mi. 23. 


HILLSBOROUGH, August 30, 1780. 


About the twenty -third instant, I wrote my friend Harrison 
from Salisbury, giving him a very hasty particular account of 
the defeat of General Gates's army at Sutton's, near Campden, 
the sixteenth instant. We were truly unfortunate, and com 
pletely routed. The infamous cowardice of the militia of 
Virginia and North Carolina, gave the enemy every advantage 
over our few regular troops, whose firm opposition and gallant 
behavior have gained them the applause, as well of our suc 
cessful foes, as of our runaway friends. If I mentioned to Col. 
Harrison the loss of two howitzers, I was mistaken. We had 
eight pieces of light artillery, with six ammunition wagons, 
which, with the greatest part of our baggage, were lost. 

Our retreat was the most mortifying that could have hap 
pened. Those who escaped the dangers of the field, knew not 
where to find protection : the wounded found no relief from the 
inhabitants, who were immediately in arms against us; and 
many of our fugitive officers and men were disarmed by those 
faithless villains, who had flattered us with promises of joining 
us against the enemy. The tories are now assembling in dif 
ferent parts of the country ; and there is actually a sort of 
partisan war waged between them and the whigs of this country. 

The greatest part of our baggage was plundered by those 
who first left the field. The enemy took a part ; and much of 
what escaped them, has been pillaged by the inhabitants on the 
retreat. The wagon horses have been stolen, and frequently 
taken from the drivers ; and some of those desperate rascals have 
been daring enough to fire upon parties of our regular troops 
many miles from the place of action. 

General Gates used the utmost expedition in getting from 
the lost field to this place. As this step is unaccountable to me, 
you must expect to know the reason another time, and from bet 
ter authority. An unfortunate General usually loses the con- 

jEi. 23.] CORRESPONDENCE. 149 

fidence of his army ; and this is much the case with us at present. 
However, I suppose every thing necessary will be done, in justi 
fication of the steps that have been taken, and then all will be 
understood. Beside my ignorance, there is another reason for 
my silence on this subject. The General is extremely mortified 
at the disappointment his hopes have met with ; and I think it 
ungenerous to oppress dejected spirits by a premature censure. 

The legislature of this State is now sitting at this place, and 
devising means of defending the country. The General has ex 
hibited estimates (he informs me) of the supplies wanting to carry 
on the campaign, both to the legislature of this State, and to 
Virginia; and hopes they will be furnished. The officers of 
North Carolina talk confidently of re-embodying a great number 
of militia. General Stephens had collected about eight hundred 
of the Virginia militia at this place since the action. But I am 
sorry to add, at least half that number have deserted. The 
Maryland Division, including the Delaware regiment, will, I 
hope, muster six hundred when all are collected. Part are now 
here: a party are with General Smallwood at Ellis's Ferry, 
Adkin river; and a small party with Major Anderson, who 
General Smallwood left some time at Charlotte, to receive the 
fugitives as they arrived. But this is the place of general ren 

From the best accounts I can get, Lord Cornwallis had with 
him, on the day of battle, the seventy -first, sixty -third, thirty- 
third, and twenty -third British regiments ; a corps of Hessians, 
Tarlton's legion, and some new levies, amounting to about three 
thousand men. Our numbers were very little greater; and 
our force will not be imagined so great, by those who are inform 
ed of our long march in a barren country, with very little other 
subsistence than a short allowance of fresh beef, green corn, apples, 
and peaches. 

As soon as I recover from a relaxation of spirits, which is all 
my present complaint, I will write you again, and inform you 
that we are resolved not to despair, but bear our fortunes like 
veterans in the South ; while you, like heroes in the North, win 
and wear the laurels of the present campaign. 

150 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [&T. 23. 

Present my most respectful compliments to the General, 
whom I love ; to all my friends at head quarters and in camp. 
Not a man among you have been generous enough to write a 

single sentence to 

Your sincere friend and servant, 


I mentioned the surprise of General Sumpter's party, which 
happened the sixteenth instant, in my last. 


LIBERTY POLE, September 3, 1780. 


Agreeably to your request, and my promise, I sit down to 
give you my ideas of the defects of our present system, and the 
changes necessary to save us from ruin. They may, perhaps, 
be the reveries of a projector, rather than the sober views of a 
politician. You will judge of them, and make what use you 
please of them. 

The fundamental defect is a want of power in Congress. It 
is hardly worth while to show in what this consists, as it seems 
to be universally acknowledged ; or to point out how it has hap 
pened, as the only question is how to remedy it. It may, how 
ever, be said, that it has originated from three causes ; an excess 
of the spirit of liberty, which has made the particular States show 
a jealousy of all power not in their own hands ; and this jealousy 
has led them to exercise a right of judging in the last resort of 
the measures recommended by Congress, and of acting according 
to their own opinions of their propriety, or necessity ; a diffi 
dence, in Congress, of their own powers, by which they have 
been timid and indecisive in their resolutions : constantly making 
concessions to the States, till they have scarcely left themselves 
the shadow of power ; a want of sufficient means at their dis 
posal to answer the public exigencies, and of vigor to draw forth 
those means; which have occasioned them to depend on the 

jEi. 23.1 CORRESPONDENCE. 151 

States individually, to fulfil their engagements with the army ; 
the consequence of which, has been to ruin their influence and 
credit with the army, to establish its dependence on each State 
separately, rather than on them, that is, rather than on the whole 

It may be pleaded, that Congress had never any definite 
powers granted them, and, of course, could exercise none, could 
do nothing more than recommend. The manner in which Con 
gress was appointed, would warrant, and the public good re 
quired, that they should have considered themselves as vested 
with full power to preserve the republic from harm. They have 
done many of the highest acts of sovereignty, which were always 
cheerfully submitted to : The declaration of independence ; the 
declaration of war : the levying of an army ; creating a navy ; 
emitting money ; making alliances with foreign powers ; appoint 
ing a dictator, etc., etc. All these implications of a complete 
sovereignty were never disputed, and ought to have been a stand 
ard for the whole conduct of administration. Undefined powers 
are discretionary powers, limited only by the object for which 
they were given ; in the present case, the independence and 
freedom of America. The Confederation made no difference ; 
for as it has not been generally adopted, it had no operation. 
But from what I recollect of it, Congress have even descended 
from the authority which the spirit of that act gives them ; while 
the particular States have no further attended to it, than as it 
suited their pretensions and convenience. It would take too 
much time to enter into particular instances, each of which 
separately might appear inconsiderable ; but united, are of 
serious import. I only mean to remark, not to censure. 

But the Confederation itself is defective, and requires to be 
altered. It is neither fit for war nor peace. The idea of an 
uncontrollable sovereignty, in each State, over its internal police, 
will defeat the other powers given to Congress, and make our 
union feeble and precarious. There are instances without 
number, where Acts, necessary for the general good, and which 
rise out of the powers given to Congress, must interfere with the 
internal police of the States ; and there are as many instances in 

152 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [Mi. 23. 

which the particular States, by arrangements of internal police, 
can effectually, though indirectly, counteract the arrangements of 
Congress. You have already had examples of this, for which I 
refer you to your own memory. 

The Confederation gives the States, individually, too much 
influence in the affairs of the army. They should have nothing 
to do with it. The entire formation and disposal of our military 
forces, ought to belong to Congress. It is an essential cement of 
the union : and it ought to be the policy of Congress, to destroy 
all ideas of State attachments in the army, and make it look up 
wholly to them. For this purpose, ail appointments, promotions, 
and provisions, whatsoever, ought to be made by them. It may 
be apprehended that this may be dangerous to liberty. But 
nothing appears more evident to me, than that we run much 
greater risk of having a weak and disunited federal government, 
than one which will be able to usurp upon the rights of the people. 

Already some of the lines of the army would obey their 
States in opposition to Congress, notwithstanding the pains we 
have taken to preserve the unity of the army. If any thing 
would hinder this, it would be the personal influence of the Gen 
eral ; a melancholy and mortifying consideration. 

The forms of our State constitutions, must always give them 
great weight in our affairs, and will make it too difficult to bend 
them to the pursuit of a common interest ; too easy to oppose 
whatever they do not like: and to form partial combinations 
subversive of the general one. There is a wide difference between 
our situation, and that of an empire under one simple form of 
government, distributed into counties, provinces, or districts, 
which have no legislatures, but merely magistratical bodies, to 
execute the laws of a common sovereign. Here the danger 
is, that the sovereign will have too much power, and oppress the 
parts of which it is composed. In our case, that of an empire com 
posed of confederated States; each with a government completely 
organized within itself, having all the means to draw its subjects 
to a close dependence on itself; the danger is directly the reverse- 
It is, that the common sovereign will not have power sufficient 


to unite the different members together, and direct the common 
forces to the interest and happiness of the whole. 

The leagues among the old Grecian republics are a proof of 
this. They were continually at war with each other ; and, for 
want of union, fell a prey to their neighbors. They frequently 
held general councils ; but their resolutions were no further ob 
served, than as they suited the interests and inclinations of all 
the parties ; and, at length, they sunk entirely into contempt. 

The Swiss Cantons are another proof of the doctrine. They 
have had wars with each other, which would have been fatal to 
them, had not the different powers, in their neighborhood, been 
too jealous of one another, and too equally matched, to suffer either 
to take advantage of their quarrels. That they have remain 
ed so long united at all, is to be attributed to their weakness, to 
their poverty, and to the causes just mentioned. These ties will 
not exist in America; a little time hence, some of the States will 
be powerful empires ; and we are so remote from other nations, 
that we shall have all the leisure and opportunity we can wish, 
to cut each other's throats. 

The Germanic corps might also be cited as an example in 
favor of the position. 

The United Provinces may be thought to be one against it. 
But the family of the Stadtholders, whose authority is inter 
woven with the whole Government, has been a strong link of 
union between them. Their physical necessities, and the habits 
founded upon them, have contributed to it. 

Each province is too inconsiderable, by itself, to undertake 
any thing. An analysis of their present constitutions, would 
show that they have many ties which would not exist in ours ; 
and that they are by no means a proper model for us. 

Our own experience should satisfy us. We have felt the dif 
ficulty of drawing out the resources of the country, and inducing 
the States to combine in equal exertions for the common cause. 

The ill success of our last attempt is striking. Some have 
done a great deal ; others little, or scarcely any thing. The dis 
putes about boundaries, etc., testify how flattering a prospect we 
have of future tranquillity, if we do not frame, in time, a con- 


federacy capable of deciding the differences, and compelling the 
obedience of the respective members. 

The Confederation, too, gives the power of the purse too en 
tirely to the State Legislatures. It should provide perpetual 
funds, in the disposal of Congress, by a land tax, poll tax, or the 
like. All imposts upon commerce ought to be laid by Congress, 
and appropriated to their use. For, without certain revenues, a 
Government can have no power. That power which holds the 
purse-strings absolutely, must rule. This seems to be a medium 
which, without making Congress altogether independent, will 
tend to give reality to its authority. 

Another defect in our system, is want of method and energy 
in the administration. This has partly resulted from the other 
defect ; but in a great degree from prejudice, and the want of a 
proper executive. Congress have kept the power too much in 
their own hands, and have meddled too much with details of 
every sort. Congress is, properly, a deliberative corps ; and it 
forgets itself when it attempts to play the executive. It is im 
possible such a body, numerous as it is, constantly fluctuating, 
can ever act with sufficient decision, or with system. Two-thirds 
of the members, one half the time, cannot know what has gone 
before them, or what connection the subject in hand has to what 
has been transacted on former occasions. The members who 
have been more permanent, will only give information that pro . 
motes the side they espouse in the present case ; and will as often 
mislead as enlighten. The variety of business must distract ; 
and the proneness of every assembly to debate, must at all times 

Lately, Congress, convinced of these inconveniences, have 
gone into the measure of appointing Boards. But this is, in my 
opinion, a bad plan. 

A single man, in each department of the administration, 
would be greatly preferable. It would give us a chance of more 
knowledge, more activity, more responsibility, and, of course, 
more zeal and attention. Boards partake of a part of the incon 
veniences of larger assemblies. Their decisions are slower, their 
energy less, their responsibility more diffused. They will not 


have the same abilities and knowledge as an administration by 
single men. Men of the first pretensions will not so readily en 
gage in them ; because they will be less conspicuous, of less im 
portance, have less opportunity of distinguishing themselves. 
The members of Boards will take less pains to inform themselves 
and arrive to eminence, because they have fewer motives to do 
it. All these reasons conspire to give a preference to the plan 
of vesting the great executive departments of the State in the 
hands of individuals. As these men will be, of course, at all 
times under the direction of Congress, we shall blend the advan 
tages of a Monarchy and Kepublic in our constitution. 

A question has been made, whether single men could be 
found to undertake these offices. I think they could ; because 
there would be then every thing to excite the ambition of candi 
dates. But, in order to this, Congress, by their manner of ap 
pointing them, and the line of duty marked out, must show that 
they are in earnest in making these officers, officers of real trust 
and importance. 

I fear a little vanity has stood in the way of these arrange 
ments, as though they would lessen the importance of Congress, 
and leave them nothing to do. But they would have precisely 
the same rights and powers as heretofore, happily disencumbered 
of the detail. They would have to inspect the conduct of their 
ministers, deliberate upon their plans, originate others for the 
public good ; only observing this rule : that they ought to con 
sult their ministers, and get all the information and advice they 
could from them, before they entered into any new measures, or 
made changes in the old. 

A third defect is, the fluctuating constitution of our army. 
This has been a pregnant source of evil : all our military misfor 
tunes, three-fourths of our civil embarrassments, are to be ascribed 
to it. The General has so fully enumerated the mischiefs of it, 
in a letter of the , to Congress, that I could only re 

peat what he has said, and will therefore refer you to that letter. 

The imperfect and unequal provision made for the army, is a 
fourth defect, which you will find delineated in the same letter. 
"Without a speedy change, the army must dissolve. It is now a 

156 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [&T. 23. 

mob, rather than an army ; without clothing, without pay, with 
out provision, without morals, without discipline. We begin to 
hate the country for its neglect of us. The country begin to 
hate us for our oppressions of them. Congress have long been 
jealous of* us. We have now lost all confidence in them, and 
give the worst construction to all they do. Held together by the 
slenderest ties, we are ripening for a dissolution. 

The present mode of supplying the army, by State purchases, 
is not one of the least considerable defects of our system. It is 
too precarious a dependence ; because the States will never be 
sufficiently impressed with our necessities. Each will make its 
own ease a primary object ; the supply of the army a secondary 
one. The variety of channels through which the business is 
transacted, will multiply the number of persons employed, and 
the opportunities of embezzling public money. From the popu 
lar spirit on which most of the Governments turn, the State 
agents will be men of less character and ability : nor will there 
be so rigid a responsibility among them, as there might easily be 
among those in the employ of the Continent ; of course, not so 
much diligence, care, or economy. Yery little of the money 
raised in the several States, will go into the Continental treasury, 
on pretence, that it is all exhausted in providing the quotas of 
supplies ; and the public will be without funds for the other de 
mands of Government. The expense will be ultimately much 
greater, and the advantages much smaller. We actually feel the 
insufficiency of this plan ; and have reason to dread, under it, a 
ruinous extremity of want. 

These are the principal defects, in the present system, that 
now occur to me. There are many inferior ones, in the organi 
zation of particular departments, and many errors of administra 
tion, which might be pointed out ; but the task would be trouble- 
%ome and tedious : and if we had once remedied those I have 
mentioned, the others would not be attended with much dif 

I shall now propose the remedies, which appear to me ap 
plicable to our circumstances, and necessary to extricate our 
affairs from their present deplorable situation. 


The first step must be, to give Congress powers competent to 
the public exigencies. This may happen in two ways : one, by 
resuming and exercising the discretionary powers I suppose to 
have been originally vested in them, for the safety of the States ; 
and resting their conduct on the candor of their countrymen, 
and the necessity of the conjuncture : the other, by calling im 
mediately a Convention of all the States, with full authority to 
conclude finally upon a General Confederation ; stating to them, 
beforehand, explicitly, the evils arising from a want of power in 
Congress, and the impossibility of supporting the contest on its 
present footing ; that the delegates may come, possessed of proper 
sentiments, as well as proper authority, to give efficacy to the 
meeting. Their commission should include a right of vesting 
Congress with the whole, or a proportion, of the unoccupied 
lands, to be employed for the purpose of raising a revenue : re 
serving the jurisdiction to the States by whom they are granted. 

The first plan, I expect, will be thought too bold an expedi 
ent, by the generality of Congress; and, indeed, their practice 
hitherto, has so riveted the opinion of their want of power, that 
the success of this experiment may very well be doubted. 

I see no objection to the other mode, that has any weight, in 
competition with the reasons for it. The Convention should 
assemble the first of November next. The sooner the better. 
Our disorders are too violent to admit of a common or lingering 
remedy. The reasons for which I require them to be vested 
with, plenipotentiary authority, are, that the business may suffer 
no delay in the execution ; and may, in reality, come to effect. 
A Convention may agree upon a Confederation : the States, 
individually, hardly ever will. We must have one at all events, 
and a vigorous one, if we mean to succeed in the contest, and be 
happy hereafter. As I said before, to engage the States to com 
ply with this mode, Congress ought to confess to them, plainly 
and unanimously, the impracticability of supporting our affairs 
on the present footing, and without a solid coercive union. I 
ask, that the Convention should have a power of vesting the 
whole, or a part, of the unoccupied lands in Congress ; because it is 
necessary that body should have some property, as a fund for the 

158 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [JEb. 23. 

arrangements of finance ; and I know of no other kind that can 
be given them. 

The Confederation, in my opinion, should give Congress 
complete sovereignty ; except as to that part of internal police, 
which relates to the rights of property and life among indi 
viduals, and to raising money by internal taxes. It is necessary 
that every thing belonging to this, should be regulated by the 
State legislatures. Congress should have complete sovereignty in 
all that relates to war, peace, trade, finance ; and to the manage 
ment of foreign affairs ; the right of declaring war ; of raising 
armies, officering, paying them, directing their motions in every 
respect ; of equipping fleets, and doing the same with them ; of 
building fortifications, arsenals, magazines, etc., etc. ; of making 
peace on such conditions as they think proper ; of regulating 
trade, determining with what countries it shall be carried on ; 
granting indulgencies ; laying prohibitions on all the articles of 
export, or import; imposing duties; granting bounties and 
premiums for raising, exporting, or importing, and applying to 
their own use, the product of these duties ; only giving credit to 
the States on whom they are raised, in the general account of 
revenues and expenses ; instituting Admiralty Courts, etc. ; of 
coining money; establishing Banks on such terms, and with 
such privileges, as they think proper ; appropriating funds, and 
doing whatever else relates to the operations of finance ; trans 
acting every thing with foreign nations ; making alliances, offen 
sive and defensive ; treaties of commerce, etc., etc. 

The Confederation should provide certain perpetual revenues, 
productive, and easy of collection ; a land tax, poll tax, or the 
like ; which, together with the duties on trade, and the unlo- 
cated lands, would give Congress a substantial existence, and a 
stable foundation for their schemes of finance. What more 
supplies were necessary, should be occasionally demanded of the 
States, in the present mode of quotas. 

The second step I would recommend, is, that Congress 
should instantly appoint the following great officers of State. 
A Secretary for Foreign Affairs, a President of War, a President 
of Marine, a Financier, a President of Trade. Instead of this 


last, a Board of Trade may be preferable, as the regulations of 
trade are slow and gradual ; and require prudence and experi 
ence more than other qualities ; for which Boards are very well 

Congress should choose for these offices, men of the first 
abilities, property, and character, in the Continent ; and such as 
have had the best opportunities of being acquainted with the 
several branches. General Schuyler, whom you mentioned, 
would make an excellent President of War ; General M'Dougall 
a very good President of Marine. Mr. Robert Morris would 
have many things in his favor for the department of finance. 
He could, by his own personal influence, give great weight to the 
measures he should adopt. I dare say men, equally capable, 
may be found for the other departments. 

I know not if it would not be a good plan to let the Finan 
cier be President of the Board of Trade ; but he should only 
have a casting voice in determining questions there. There 
is a connection between trade and finance, which ought to make 
the director of one acquainted with the other ; but the Financier 
should not direct the affairs of trade, because, for the sake of 
acquiring reputation by increasing the revenues, he might adopt 
measures that would depress trade. In what relates to finance, 
he should be alone. 

These officers should have nearly the same powers and func 
tions as those in France analogous to them : and each should be 
Chief in his department ; with subordinate Boards, composed of 
assistants, clerks, etc., to execute his orders. 

In my opinion, a plan of this kind would be of inconceivable 
utility to our affairs : its benefits would be very speedily felt. 
It would give new life and energy to the operations of Govern 
ment. Business would be conducted with dispatch, method, 
and system. A million of abuses, now existing, would be cor 
rected; and judicious plans would be formed and executed for 
the public good. 

Another step of immediate necessity, is, to recruit the army 
for the war, or at least for three years. This must be done by a 
mode similar to that which is practised in Sweden. There the 

160 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [JEi. 23. 

inhabitants are thrown into classes of sixteen; and when the 
sovereign wants men, each of these classes must furnish one. 
They raise a fixed sum of money ; and if one of the class is 
willing to become a soldier, he receives the money and offers 
himself a volunteer. If none is found to do this, a draught is 
made ; and he on whom the lot falls, receives the money, and is 
obliged to serve. 

The minds of the people are prepared for a thing of this 
kind. The heavy bounties they have been obliged to pay for 
men to serve a few months, must have disgusted them with this 
mode, and made them desirous of another, that will, once for 
all, answer the public purposes, and obviate a repetition of the 
demand. It ought, by all means, to be attempted ; and Congress 
should frame a general plan, and press the execution upon the 

When the Confederation comes to be framed, it ought to 
provide for this by a fundamental law; and hereafter there 
would be no doubt of the success. 

But we cannot now wait for this. We want to replace the men 
whose times of service will expire the first of January : for then, 
without this, we shall have no army remaining ; and the enemy 
may do what they please. The General, in his letter already 
quoted, has assigned the most substantial reasons for paying 
immediate attention to this point. 

Congress should endeavor, both upon their credit in Europe, 
and by every possible exertion in this country, to provide cloth 
ing for their officers ; and should abolish the whole system of 
State supplies. The making good the depreciation of the cur 
rency, and all other compensations to the army, should be 
immediately taken up by Congress, and not left to the States. 
If they would have the accounts of depreciation liquidated, and 
governmental certificates given for what is due, in specie, or an 
equivalent to specie, it would give satisfaction ; appointing peri 
odical settlements for future depreciation. 

The placing the officers upon half-pay during life, would 
be a great stroke of policy ; and would give Congress a stronger 
tie upon them than any thing else they can do. No man, that 


reflects a moment, but will prefer a permanent provision of this 
kind to any temporary compensation. Nor is it opposed to econ 
omy : the difference between this, and between what has already 
been done, will be insignificant. The benefit of it to the widows 
should be confined to those whose husbands die during the war. 
As to the survivors, not more than one half, on the usual calcu 
lation of men's lives, will exceed the seven years for which the 
half-pay is already established. Beside this, whatever may be 
the visionary speculations of some men at this time, we shall 
find it indispensable, after the war, to keep on foot a consider 
able body of troops : and all the officers, retained for this pur 
pose, must be deducted out of the half-pay list. If any one will 
take the pains to calculate the expense of these principles, I am 
persuaded he will find the addition of expense, from the estab 
lishment proposed, by no means a national object. 

The advantages of securing the attachment of the army to 
Congress, and binding them to the service by substantial ties, 
are immense. We should then have discipline ; an army in re 
ality, as well as in name. Congress would then have a solid 
basis of authority and consequence : for, to me, it is an axiom, 
that in our constitution, an army is essential to the American 

The providing of supplies, is the pivot of every thing else 
(though a well-constituted army would, not in a small degree, 
conduce to this, by giving consistency and weight to Govern 
ment). There are four ways, all of which must be united : A 
foreign loan ; heavy pecuniary taxes ; a tax in kind ; a Bank 
founded on public and private credit. 

As to a foreign loan, I dare say Congress are doing every 
thing in their power to obtain it. The most effectual way will 
be to tell France, that, without it, we must make terms with 
Great Britain. This must be done with plainness and firmness ; 
but with respect, and without petulance ; not as a menace, but 
as a candid declaration of our circumstances. 

We need not fear to be deserted by France. Her interest and 
honor are too deeply involved in our fate ; and she can make no 
possible compromise. She can assist us, if she is convinced it is 

VOL. I. 11 


absolutely necessary ; either by lending us, herself, or by becom 
ing our surety, or by influencing Spain. It has been to me 
astonishing, how any man could have doubted, at any period of 
our affairs, of the necessity of a foreign loan. It was self-evident, 
that we had not a fund of wealth in this country capable of af 
fording revenues equal to the expenses. We must then create 
artificial revenues, or borrow. The first was done ; but it ought 
to have been foreseen that the expedient could not last, and we 
should have provided in time for its failure. 

Here was an error of Congress. I have good reason to be 
lieve, that measures were not taken, in earnest, early enough to 
procure a loan abroad. I give you my honor, that from our first 
outset, I thought as I do now, and wished for a foreign loan ; 
not only because I foresaw it would be essential, but because I 
considered it as a tie upon the nation from which it was derived, 
and as a mean to prop our cause in Europe. 

Concerning the necessity of heavy pecuniary taxes, I need 
say nothing ; as it is a point in which every body is agreed. ISTor 
is there any danger, that the product of any taxes, raised in this 
way, will overburthen the people, or exceed the wants of the 
public. Indeed, if all the paper in circulation were drawn annu 
ally into the treasury, it would neither do one nor the other. 

As to a tax in kind, the necessity of it results from this prin 
ciple : that the money in circulation is not a sufficient represen 
tative of the productions of the country ; and, consequently, no 
revenues, raised from it as a medium, can be a competent repre 
sentative of that part of the products of the country which it is 
bound to contribute to the support of the public. The public, 
therefore, to obtain its due, or satisfy its just demands, and its 
wants, must call for a part of those products themselves. This 
is done in all those countries which are not commercial : in Eus- 
sia, Prussia, Denmark, Sweden, etc., and is peculiarly necessary 
in our case. 

Congress, in calling for specific supplies, seem to have had 
this in view ; but their intention has not been answered. The 
States, in general, have undertaken to furnish supplies by pur 
chase ; a mode, as I have observed, attended with every incon- 


venience, and subverting the principle on which the supplies 
were demanded ; the insufficiency of our circulating medium as a 
representative for the labor and commodities of the country. It 
is therefore necessary that Congress should be more explicit; 
should form the outlines of a plan for a tax in kind, and recom 
mend it to the States as a measure of absolute necessity. 

The general idea I have of a plan, is, that a respectable man 
should be appointed by the State, in each county, to collect the 
taxes and form magazines ; that Congress should have, in each 
State, an officer to superintend the whole ; and that the State 
collectors should be subordinate and responsible to them. This 
Continental Superintendent might be subject to the general direc 
tion of the Quarter-Master-General, or not, as might be deemed 
best; but if not subject to him, he should be obliged to make 
monthly returns to the President at War, who should instruct 
him what proportion to deliver to the Quarter-Master-General. 
It may be necessary, that the Superintendents should sometimes 
have power to dispose of the articles in their possession, on public 
account ; for it would happen, that the contributions, in places 
remote from the army, could not be transported to the theatre of 
operations without too great expense ; in which case it would be 
eligible to dispose of them, and purchase, with the money so 
raised, in the countries near the immediate scene of war. 

I know the objections which may be raised to this plan ; its 
tendency to Discourage industry, and the like. But necessity 
calls for it. We cannot proceed without it : and less evils must 
give place to greater. It is, besides, practised with success in 
other countries, and why not in this ? It may be said, the ex 
amples cited are from nations under despotic governments ; and 
that the same would not be practicable with us. But I contend, 
where the public good is evidently the object, more may be 
effected in governments like ours, than in any other. It has 
been a constant remark, that free countries have ever paid the 
heaviest taxes. The obedience of a free people to general laws, 
however hard they bear, is ever more perfect than that of slaves 
to the arbitrary will of a prince. To this may be added, that 
Sweden was always a free government ; and is so now, in a great 
degree, notwithstanding the late revolution. 


How far it may be practicable to erect a Bank on the joint 
credit of the public and of individuals, can only be certainly 
determined by the experiment. But it is of so much importance, 
that the experiment ought to be fully tried. When I saw the 
subscriptions going on to the Bank established for supplying the 
army, I was in hopes it was only the embryo of a more perma 
nent and extensive establishment. But I have reason to believe 
I shall be disappointed. It does not seem to be at all conducted 
on the true principles of a Bank. 

The Directors of it are purchasing with their Stock, instead of 
Bank notes, as I expected : in consequence of which, it must turn 
out to be a mere subscription of a particular sum of money for a 
particular purpose. 

Paper credit never was long supported in any country, on a 
national scale, where it was not founded on a joint basis of public 
and private credit. An attempt to establish it on public credit 
alone, in France, under the auspices of Mr. Law, had nearly ruin 
ed the kingdom. We have seen the effects of it in America ; 
and every successive experiment, proves the futility of the at 
tempt. Our new money is depreciating almost as fast as the old ; 
though it has, in some States, as real funds as paper money ever 
had. The reason is, that the moneyed men have not an immedi 
ate interest to uphold its credit. They may even, in many ways, 
find it their interest to undermine it. The only certain manner 
to obtain a permanent paper credit, is to engage, the moneyed 
interest immediately in it, by making them contribute the whole, 
or part of the Stock, and giving them the whole, or part of the 

The invention of Banks, on the modern principle, originated 
in Yenice. There the public, and a Company of moneyed men, 
are mutually concerned. The Bank of England unites public 
authority and faith with private credit : and hence we see, what 
a vast fabric of paper credit is raised on a visionary basis. Had 
it not been for this, England would never have found sufficient 
funds to carry on her wars: but, with the help of this, she has 
done, and is doing, wonders. The Bank of Amsterdam is on a 
similar foundation. 


And winy can we not have an American Bank ? Are our 
moneyed men less enlightened to their own interest, or less en 
terprising in the pursuit ? I believe the fault is in Government, 
which does not exert itself to engage them in such a scheme. It 
is true, the individuals in America are not very rich ; but this 
would not prevent their instituting a Bank ; it would only pre 
vent its being done with such ample funds as in other countries. 
Have they not sufficient confidence in the Government, and in 
the issue of the cause ? Let the Government endeavor to inspire 
that confidence, by adopting the measures I have recommended, 
or others equivalent to them. Let it exert itself to procure a 
solid Confederation ; to establish a good plan of executive ad 
ministration ; to form a permanent military force ; to obtain, at 
all events, a foreign loan. If these things were in a train of vig 
orous execution, it would give a new spring to our affairs ; Gov 
ernment would recover its respectability, and individuals would 
renounce their diffidence. 

. The object I should propose to myself, in the first instance, 
from a Bank, would be an auxiliary mode of supplies ; for which 
purpose, contracts should be made, between Government and the 
Bank, on terms liberal and advantageous to the latter. Every 
thing should be done, in the first instance, to encourage the 
Bank. After it gets well established, it will take care of itself; 
and Government may make the best terms it can, for itself. 

The first step to establishing the Bank, will be to engage a 
number of moneyed men of influence to relish the project, and 
make it a business. The subscribers to that lately established, 
are the fittest persons that can be found ; and their plan may be 

The outlines of my plan would be, to open subscriptions in 
all the StateSjlfor the Stock, which we will suppose to be one 
million of pounds. Eeal property of every kind, as well as spe 
cie, should be deemed good Stock ; but at least a fourth part of 
the subscription should be in specie, or plate. There should be 
one great Company, in three divisions : in Virginia, Philadelphia, 
and at Boston ; or two at Philadelphia and Boston. The Bank 
should have a right to issue Bank notes, bearing two per cent. 

166 HAMILTON'S, WORKS. [^Ex. 23. 

interest, for the whole of their stock; but not to exceed it. 
These notes may be payable every three months, or oftener : and 
the faith of government must be pledged for the support of the 
Bank. It must therefore have a right, from time to time, to in 
spect its operations, and must appoint inspectors for the purpose. 

The advantages of the Bank may consist in this : in the 
profits of the contracts made with G-overnment, which should 
bear interest to be annually paid in specie ; in the loan of money 
at interest, say six per cent. ; in purchasing lives by annuities, as 
practised in England, etc. The benefit resulting to the Compa 
ny, is evident from the consideration, that they may employ, in 
circulation, a great deal more money than they have specie in 
Stock, on the credit of the real property which they will have in 
other use. This money will be employed, either in fulfilling 
their contracts with the public, by which also they will gain a 
profit ; or in loans at an advantageous interest, or in annuities. 

The Bank may be allowed to purchase plate and bullion, and 
coin money ; allowing Government a part of the profit. I make 
the Bank notes bear interest, to obtain a readier currency, and 
to induce the holders to prefer them to specie, to prevent too 
great a run upon the Bank, at any time, beyond its ability to pay. 

If Government can obtain a foreign loan, it should lend to 
the Bank, on easy terms, to extend its influence, and facilitate a 
compliance with its engagements. If Government could engage 
the States to raise a sum of money in specie, to be deposited in 
Bank in the same manner, it would be of the greatest conse 
quence. If Government could prevail on the enthusiasm of the 
people, to make a contribution in plate for the same purpose, it 
would be a master-stroke. Things of this kind sometimes suc 
ceed in popular contests ; and, if undertaken with address, I 
should not despair of its success : but I should not be sanguine. 

The Bank may be instituted for a term of years by way of 
trial; and the particular privilege of coining money, be for a 
term still shorter. A temporary transfer of it to a particular 
Company, can have no inconvenience, as the Government are in 
no condition to improve this resource ; nor could it, in our cir 
cumstances, be an object to them; though, with the industry of 
a knot of individuals, it might be a valuable one to them. 


A Bank of this kind, even in its commencement, would an 
swer the most valuable purposes to Government and to the pro 
prietors : in its progress, the advantages will exceed calculation. 
It will promote commerce, by furnishing a more extensive medi 
um, which we greatly want, in our circumstances. I mean a 
more extensive valuable medium. We have an enormous nomi 
nal one at this time, but it is only a name. 

In the present unsettled state of things in this country, we 
can hardly draw inferences from what has happened in others ; 
otherwise I should be certain of the success of this scheme : but 
I think it has enough in its favor to be worthy of trial. 

I have only skimmed the surface of the different subjects I 
have introduced. Should the plans recommended come into 
contemplation, in earnest, and you desire my further thoughts, I 
will endeavor to give them more form and particularity. I am 
persuaded a solid Confederation, a permanent army, a reasonable 
prospect of subsisting it, would give us treble consideration in 
Europe, and produce a peace this winter. 

If a Convention is called, the minds of all the States, and the 
people, ought to be prepared to receive its determinations by 
sensible and popular writings, which should conform to the views 
of Congress. There are epochs in human affairs when novelty 
even is useful. If a general opinion prevails that the old way is 
bad, whether true or false, and this obstructs or relaxes the op 
erations of the public service, a change is necessary, if it be but 
for the sake of change. This is exactly the case now. 'Tis a 
universal sentiment, that our present system is a bad one, and 
that things do not go right on this account. The measure of a 
Convention would revive the hopes of the people, and give a 
new direction to their passions, which may be improved in car 
rying points of substantial utility. The eastern States have al 
ready pointed out this mode to Congress : they ought to take 
the hint and anticipate the others. 

And, in future, my dear sir, two things let me recommend, as 
fundamental rules for the conduct of Congress: to attach the 
army to them by every motive ; to maintain an air of authority 
(not domineering) in all their measures with the States. The 

168 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [JEi. 23. 

manner in which a thing is done, has more influence than is 
commonly imagined. Men are governed by opinion : this opin 
ion is as much influenced by appearances as by realities. If a 
Government appears to be confident of its own powers, it is the 
surest way to inspire the same confidence in others. If it is dif 
fident, it may be certain there will be a still greater diffidence- in 
others ; and that its authority will not only be distrusted, contro 
verted, but contemned. 

I wish, too, Congress would always consider, that a kindness 
consists as much in the manner as in the thing. The best things 
done hesitatingly, and with an ill grace, lose their effect, and 
produce disgust rather than satisfaction or gratitude. In what 
Congress have at any time done for the army, they have com 
monly been too late. They have seemed to yield to importunity, 
rather than to sentiments of justice or to a regard to the accom 
modation of their troops. An attention to this idea, is of more 
importance than it may be thought. I, who have seen all the 
workings and progress of the present discontents, am convinced, 
that a want of this has not been among the most inconsiderable 

You will perceive, my dear sir, this letter is hastily written, 
and with a confidential freedom : not as to a member of Con 
gress, whose feelings may be sore at the prevailing clamors ; but 
as to a friend, who is in a situation to remedy public disorders ; 
who wishes for nothing so much as truth ; and who is desirous 
of information, even from those less capable of judging than 
himself. I have not even time to correct and copy ; and only 
enough to add, that I am, very truly and affectionately, dear sir, 

Your most obedient servant, 






Your favor of the 17th. I received on that day. That of the 
13th has taken a tour to Albany and was delivered me this 

Commissioners will be appointed to meet the Eastern Con 
vention ; I believe Judge Hubbard, Mr. Benson, the Attorney 
General, and myself, will go ; the two gentlemen I have men 
tioned are as deeply impressed as men can be with the necessity 
of more power in the directing councils, or what would be better 

in our present situation, -. The lower house are for it, 

but the upper timid, although heartily disposed to every mea 
sure which will give vigor. 

I was too much indisposed to undertake the journey to Hart 
ford, and continue so much so that I am obliged to quit this 
before the Legislature rises. 

I am informed Grates is to have the thanks of the Senate for 
not despairing of the Commonwealth, but that they do not mean 
to tread wholly in the steps of the Komans, and confine him to 
subordinate commands ; he is to have a potent army, and to drive 
Cornwallis and his crew into the sea with more rapidity than he 
flew to Hillsborough. 

Pray entreat the General and the gentlemen of his family to 
accept of my best wishes, in which you always partake. 

I am, dear Sir, 

Affectionately yours, etc., 


Col. Hamilton. 


September 6, 1780. 

Most people here are groaning under a very disagreeable 
piece of intelligence just come from the southward, that Gates 
has had a total defeat near Camden, in South Carolina. Corn- 


wallis and he met in the night of the fifteenth, by accident, 
marching to the same point. The advanced guards skirmished, 
and the two armies halted and formed till morning. In the 
morning a battle ensued, in which the militia, and Gates with 
them, immediately ran away, and left the Continental troops to 
contend with the enemy's whole force. 

They did it obstinately, and probably are most of them cut 
off. Gates, however, who writes to Congress, seems to know 
very little what has become of his army. He showed that age 
and the long labors and fatigues of a military life had not in the 
least impaired his activity, for in three days and a half he reached 
Hillsborough, one hundred and eighty miles from the scene of 
action, leaving all his troops to take care of themselves, and get 
out of the scrape as well as they could. 

He has confirmed, in this instance, the opinion I always had 
of him. This event will have very serious consequences to the 
southward. People's imaginations have already given up North 
Carolina and Virginia ; but I do not believe either of them will 
fall. I am certain Virginia cannot. This misfortune affects me 
less than others, because it is not in my temper to repine at evils 
that are past, but to endeavor to draw good out of them, and 
because I think our safety depends on a total change of system, 
and this change of system will only be produced by misfortune. 



September 6, 1780. 


The letter accompanying this has lain by two or three days 
for want of an opportunity. I have heard since of Gates's defeat : 
a very good comment on the necessity of changing our system. 
His passion for militia, I fancy, will be a little cured, and he will 
cease to think them the best bulwark of American liberty. 
What think you of the conduct of this great man ? I am his 


enemy personally, for unjust and unprovoked attacks upon my 
character ; therefore what I say of him ought to be received as 
from an enemy, and have no more weight than as it is consist 
ent with fact and common sense. But did ever any one hear of 
such a disposition or such a flight ? His best troops placed on 
the side strongest by nature, his worst on that weakest by nature, 
and his attack made with these. 'Tis impossible to give a more 
complete picture of military absurdity. It is equally against the 
maxims of war and common sense. We see the consequences. 
His left ran away, and left his right uncovered. His right wing 
turned on the left has in all probability been cut off. Though, 
in truth, the General seems to have known very little what 
became of his army. 

Had he placed his militia on his right, supported by the 
morass, and his Continental troops on his left, where it seems 
he was most vulnerable, his right would have been more secure, 
and his left would have opposed the enemy; and instead of 
going backward when he ordered to attack, would have gone 
forward. The reverse of what has happened might have hap 

But was there ever an instance of a General running away, 
as Gates has done, from his whole army ? And was there ever 
so precipitous a flight ? One hundred and eighty miles in three 
days and a half. It does admirable credit to the activity of a 
man at his time of life. But it disgraces the General and the 
soldier. I always believed him to be very far short of a Hector, 
or a Ulysses. All the world, I think, will begin to agree 
with me. 

But what will be done by Congress ? "Will he be changed 
or not ? If he is changed, for God's sake overcome prejudice, 
and send Greene. You know my opinion of him. I stake my 
reputation on the events, give him but fair play. 

But, above all things, let us have, without delay, a vigorous 
government, and a well constituted army for the war. 

Adieu, my dear Sir, 


172 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [&T. 23. 


BOSTON, September 7, 1780. 

If you do write to me, direct your letters to General Heath, 
and under his cover. I cannot tell why till I see you ; I want 
it much. 

The enemy have left Martha's Vineyard. It is reported they 
sailed to the southward. 

I beg you would remember me to my friend Laurens ; I have 
written to him, but he keeps silent. 

I do not like your situation at Lee's Fort : you throw the 
glove to Clinton ; he will take it, and we are not near enough to 
be your seconds. Our sick increase ; not much ; but they in 

Farewell, your servant and friend, 

F * * Y. 


September, 1780. 

Since my return from Hartford, my dear Laurens, my mind 
has been too little at ease to permit me to write to you sooner. 
It has been wholly occupied by the affecting and tragic conse 
quences of Arnold's treason. My feelings were never put to so 
severe a trial. You will no doubt have heard the principal facts 
before this reaches you. But there are particulars, to which my 
situation gave me access, that cannot have come to your know 
ledge from public report, which I am persuaded you will find 

From several circumstances, the project seems to have origi 
nated with Arnold himself, and to have been long premeditated. 
The first overture is traced back to some time in June last. It 
was conveyed in a letter to Colonel Eobinson ; the substance 
of which was, that the ingratitude he had experienced from his 


country, concurring with other causes, had entirely changed his 
principles ; that he now only sought to restore himself to the 
favor of his king, by some signal proof of his repentance ; and 
would be happy to open a correspondence with Sir Henry 
Clinton for that purpose. About this period he made a journey 
to Connecticut : on his return from which to Philadelphia, 
he solicited the command of West Point ; alleging that the 
effects of his wounds had disqualified him for the active duties 
of the field. The sacrifice of this important post was the atone 
ment he intended to make. General Washington hesitated the 
less to gratify an officer who had rendered such eminent services, 
as he was convinced the post might be safely intrusted to one 
who had given so many distinguished specimens of his bravery. 
In the beginning of August he joined the army and renewed his 
application. The enemy, at this juncture, had embarked the 
greatest part of their forces on an expedition to Khode Island ; 
and our army was in motion to compel them to relinquish the 
enterprise, or to attack New- York in its weakened state. The 
General offered Arnold the left wing of the army, which he 
declined, on the pretext already mentioned, but not without 
visible embarrassment. He certainly might have executed the 
duties of such a temporary command ; and it was expected from 
his enterprising temper, that he would gladly have embraced so 
splendid an opportunity. But he did not choose to be diverted 
a moment from his favorite object ; probably from an appre 
hension that some different disposition might have taken place, 
which would have excluded him. The extreme solicitude he 
discovered to get possession of the post, would have led to a 
suspicion of treachery, had it been possible, from his past con 
duct, to have supposed him capable of it. 

The correspondence thus begun, was carried on between 
Arnold and Major Andre, Adjutant-General to the British army, 
in behalf of Sir Henry Clinton, under feigned signatures, and in 
a mercantile disguise. In an intercepted letter of Arnold's, 
which lately fell into our hands, he proposes an interview, " to 
settle the risks and profits of the copartnership;" and, in the 
same style of metaphor, intimates an expected augmentation of 

174 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [^T. 23. 

the garrison ; and speaks of it as the means of extending their 
traffic. It appears, by another letter, that Andre was to have 
met him on the lines, under the sanction of a flag, in the char 
acter of Mr. John Anderson. But some cause or other, not 
known, prevented this interview. 

The twentieth of last month, Kobinson and Andr6 went up 
the river in the Yulture sloop-of-war. Kobinson sent a flag to 
Arnold with two letters ; one to General Putnam, inclosed in 
another to himself; proposing an interview with Putnam, or, in 
his absence, with Arnold, to adjust some private concerns. The 
one to General Putnam, was evidently meant as a cover to the 
other, in case, by accident, the letters should have fallen under 
the inspection of a third person. 

General Washington crossed the river, on his way to Hartford, 
the day these dispatches arrived. Arnold, conceiving he must 
have heard of the flag, thought it necessary, for the sake of 
appearances, to submit the letters to him, and ask his opinion of 
the propriety of complying with the request. The General, 
with his usual caution, though without the least surmise of the 
design, dissuaded him from it, and advised him to reply to 
Eobinson, that whatever related to his private affairs, must be 
of a civil nature, and could only properly be addressed to the 
civil authority. This reference fortunately deranged the plan ; 
and was the first link in the chain of events that led to the de 
tection. The interview could no longer take place in the form 
of a flag, but was obliged to be managed in a secret manner. 

Arnold employed one Smith to go on board the Vulture the 
night of the twenty-second, to bring Andre on shore, with a pass 
for Mr. John Anderson. Andre came ashore accordingly ; and 
was conducted within a picket of ours to the house of Smith, 
where Arnold and he remained together in close conference all 
that night and the day following. At daylight in the morning, 
the commanding officer at King's Ferry, without the privity of 
Arnold, moved a couple of pieces of cannon to a point opposite 
to where the Yulture lay, and obliged her to take a more remote 
station. This event, or some lurking distrust, made the boatmen 
refuse to convey the two passengers back, and disconcerted 


Arnold so much, that by one of those strokes of infatuation which 
often confound the schemes of men conscious of guilt, he insisted 
on Andre's exchanging his uniform for a disguise, and returning 
in a mode different from that in which he came. Andre, who 
had been undesignedly brought within our posts in the first 
instance, remonstrated warmly against this new and dangerous 
expedient. But Arnold persisting in declaring it impossible for 
him to return as he came, he at length reluctantly yielded to his 
direction, and consented to change his dress, and take the route 
he recommended. Smith furnished the disguise, and in the 
evening passed King's Ferry with him, and proceeded to Crom- 
pond, where they stopped the remainder of the night, at the 
instance of a militia officer, to avoid being suspected by him. 
The next morning they resumed their journey, Smith accom 
panying Andre a little beyond Pine's Bridge, where he left him. 
He had reached Tarrytown, when he was taken up by three 
militia men, who rushed out of the woods and seized his horse. 

At this critical moment, his presence of mind forsook him. 
Instead of producing his pass, which would have extricated him 
from our parties, and could have done him no harm with his 
own, he asked the militia men, if they were of the upper or lower 
party ; distinctive appellations known among the enemy's refugee 
corps. The militia men replied, they were of the lower party ; 
upon which he told them he was a British officer, and pressed 
them not to detain him, as he was upon urgent business. This 
confession removed all doubts ; and it was in vain he afterwards 
produced his pass. He was instantly forced off to a place of 
greater security, where, after a careful search, there were found, 
concealed in the feet of his stockings, several papers of import 
ance, delivered to him by Arnold ! Among these, were a plan 
of the fortifications of West Point ; a memorial from the engineer 
on the attack and defence of the place ; returns of the garrison, 
cannon, and stores ; copy of the minutes of a council of war 
held by General Washington a few weeks before. The prisoner, 
at first, was inadvertently ordered to Arnold ; but on recollec 
tion, while still on the way, he was countermanded, and sent to 
Old Salem. The papers were inclosed in a letter to General 


Washington, which, having taken a route different from that by 
which he returned, made a circuit that afforded leisure for 
another letter, through an ill-judged delicacy, written to Arnold 
with information of Anderson's capture, to get to him an hour 
before General "Washington arrived at his quarters ; time enough 
to elude the fate that awaited him. He went down the river in 
his barge to the Vulture with such precipitate confusion, that he 
did not take with him a single paper useful to the enemy. On 
the first notice of the affair, he was pursued, but much too late 
to be overtaken. 

There was some color for imagining it was a part of the 
plan to betray the General into the hands of the enemy. Arnold 
was very anxious to ascertain from him, the precise day of his 
return ; and the enemy's movements seem to have corresponded 
to this point. But if it was really the case, it was very injudi 
cious. The success must have depended on surprise ; and as the 
officers at the advanced posts were not in the secret, their mea 
sures might have given the alarm ; and General Washington, 
taking the command of the post, might have rendered the whole 
scheme abortive. Arnold, it is true, had so dispersed the garri 
son, as to have made a defence difficult, but not impracticable ; 
and the acquisition of West Point was of such magnitude to the 
enemy, that it would have been unwise to connect it with any 
other object, however great, which might make the obtaining of 
it precarious. 

Arnold, a moment before the setting out, went into Mrs. 
Arnold's apartment, and informed her that some transactions had 
just come to light, which must for ever banish him from his 
country. She fell into a swoon at this declaration : and he left 
her in it, to consult his own safety, till the servants, alarmed by 
her cries, came to her relief. She remained frantic all day ; ac 
cusing every one who approached her, with an intention to mur 
der her child (an infant in her arms); and exhibiting every 
other mark of the most genuine and agonizing distress. Ex 
hausted by the fatigue and tumult of her spirits, her phrensy 
subsided towards evening, and she sank into all the sadness of 
affliction. It was impossible not to have been touched with her 


situation. Every thing affecting in female tears, or in the misfor 
tunes of beauty ; every thing pathetic in the wounded tenderness 
of a wife, or in the apprehensive fondness of a mother ; and, till 
I have reason to change the opinion, I will add, every thing 
amiable in suffering innocence ; conspired to make her an ob 
ject of sympathy to all who were present. She experienced 
the most delicate attentions, and every friendly office, till her 
departure for Philadelphia. 

Andre was, without loss of time, conducted to the head 
quarters of the army, where he was immediately brought 
before a Board of General Officers, to prevent all possibility 
of misrepresentation, or cavil on the part of the enemy. The 
Board reported, that he ought to be considered as a spy, and, 
according to the laws of nations, to suffer death; which was 
executed two days after. 

Never, perhaps, did any man suffer death with more justice, 
or deserve it less. The first step he took, after his capture, 
was to write a letter to General Washington, conceived in terms 
of dignity without insolence, and apology without meanness. 
The scope of it was to vindicate himself from the imputation 
of having assumed a mean character for treacherous or inter 
ested purposes ; asserting that he had been involuntarily an im 
postor ; that contrary to his intention, which was to meet a 
person for intelligence on neutral ground, he had been betrayed 
within our posts, and forced into the vile condition of an enemy 
in disguise; soliciting only, that, to whatever rigor policy 
might devote him, a decency of treatment might be observed, 
due to a person, who, though unfortunate, had been guilty of 
nothing dishonorable. His request was granted in its full ex 
tent ; for, in the whole progress of the affair, he was treated with 
the most scrupulous delicacy. When brought before the Board 
of Officers, he met with every mark of indulgence, and was 
required to answer no interrogatory which could even embar 
rass his feelings. On his part, while he carefully concealed 
every thing that might involve others, he frankly confessed all 
the facts relating to himself; and, upon his confession, without 
the trouble of examining a witness, the Board made their 
VOL. i. 12 


Keport. The members of it were not more impressed with the 
candor and firmness, mixed with a becoming sensibility, which 
he displayed, than he was penetrated with their liberality and 
politeness. He acknowledged the generosity of the behavior 
towards him in every respect, but particularly in this, in the 
strongest terms of manly gratitude. In a conversation with a 
gentleman who visited him after his trial, he said he flattered 
himself he had never been illiberal ; but if there were any 
remains of prejudice in his mind, his present experience must 
obliterate them. 

In one of the visits I made to him (and I saw him several 
times during his confinement), he begged me to be the bearer of 
a request to the General, for permission to send an open letter 
to Sir Henry Clinton. "I foresee my fate," said he, " and though 
I pretend not to play the hero, or to be indifferent about life ; 
yet I am reconciled to whatever may happen, conscious that mis 
fortune, not guilt, has brought it upon me. There is only one 
thing that disturbs my tranquillity. Sir Henry Clinton has 
been too good to me ; he has been lavish of his kindness. I am 
bound to him by too many obligations, and love him too well, to 
bear the thought, that he should reproach himself, or that others 
should reproach him, on the supposition of my having conceived 
myself obliged, by his instructions, to run the risk I did. I 
would not, for the world, leave a sting in his mind that should 
imbitter his future days." He could scarce finish the sentence, 
bursting into tears in spite of his efforts to suppress them ; and 
with difficulty collected himself enough afterwards to add: "I 
wish to be permitted to assure him, I did not act under this 
impression, but submitted to a necessity imposed upon me, as 
contrary to my own inclination as to his orders." His request 
was readily complied with ; and he wrote the letter annexed, 
with which I dare say you will be as much pleased as I am, both 
for the diction and sentiment. 

When his sentence was announced to him, he remarked, that 
since it was his lot to die, there was still a choice in the mode, 
which would make a material difference in his feelings ; and he 
would be happy, if possible, to be indulged with a professional 


death. He made a second application, by letter, in concise but 
persuasive terms. It was thought this indulgence, being in 
compatible with the customs of war, could not be granted ; and 
it was therefore determined, in both cases, to evade an answer, 
to spare him the sensations which a certain knowledge of the 
intended mode would inflict. 

In going to the place of execution, he bowed familiarly as 
lie went along, to all those with whom he had been acquainted 
in his confinement. A smile of complacency expressed the se 
rene fortitude of his mind. Arrived at the fatal spot, he asked, 
with some emotion, " Must I then die in this manner ?" He was 
told it had been unavoidable. " I am reconciled to my fate," 
said he, "but not to the mode." Soon, however, recollecting 
himself, he added : "It will be but a momentary pang :" and, 
springing upon the cart, performed the last offices to himself, 
with a composure that excited the admiration, and melted the 
hearts of the beholders. Upon being told the final moment was 
at hand, and asked if he had any thing to say, he answered, 
"Nothing but to request you will witness to the world, that I 
die like a brave man." Among the extraordinary circumstances 
that attended him, in the midst of his enemies, he died univer 
sally esteemed and universally regretted. 

There was something singularly interesting in the character 
and fortunes of Andre. To an excellent understanding, well 
improved by education and travel, he united a peculiar elegance 
of mind and manners, and the advantage of a pleasing person. 
' Tis said he possessed a pretty taste for the fine arts, and had 
himself attained some proficiency in poetry, music, and painting. 
His knowledge appeared without ostentation, and embellished 
by a diffidence that rarely accompanies so many talents and ac 
complishments : which left you to suppose more than appeared. 
His sentiments were elevated, and inspired esteem : they had a 
softness that conciliated affection. His elocution was hand 
some : his address easy, polite, and insinuating. By his merit, 
he had acquired the unlimited confidence of his General, and 
was making a rapid progress in military rank and reputation. 
But in the height of his career, flushed with new hopes from the 

180 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [JEi. 23. 

execution of a project, the most beneficial to his party that 
could be devised, he wa"s at once precipitated from the summit 
of prosperity, and saw all the expectations of his ambition blast 
ed, and himself ruined. 

The character I have given of -him, is drawn partly from 
what I saw of him myself, and partly from information. I am 
aware that a man of real merit is never seen in so favorable a 
light as through the medium of adversity : the clouds that sur 
round him, are shades that set off his good qualities. Misfor 
tune cuts down the little vanities that, in prosperous times, serve 
as so many spots in his virtues ; and gives a tone of humility 
that makes his worth more amiable. His spectators, who enjoy 
a happier lot, are less prone to detract from it, through envy, and 
are more disposed, by compassion, to give him the credit he de 
serves, and perhaps even to magnify it. 

I speak not of Andre's conduct in this affair as a philosopher, 
but as a man of the world. The authorized maxims and prac 
tices of war, are the satires of human nature. They countenance 
almost every species of seduction as well as violence ; and the 
General who can make most traitors in the army of his adversa- 
sary, is frequently most applauded. On this scale we acquit 
Andre while we could not but condemn him, if we were to 
examine his conduct by the sober rules of philosophy and moral 
rectitude. It is, however, a blemish on his fame, that he once 
intended to prostitute a flag : about this, a man of nice honor 
ought to have had a scruple ; but the temptation was great : let 
his misfortunes cast a veil over his error. 

Several letters from Sir Henry Clinton and others, were re 
ceived in the course of the affair, feebly attempting to prove, that 
Andre" came out under the protection of a flag, with a passport 
from a general officer in actual service ; and consequently could 
not be justly detained. Clinton sent a deputation, composed of 
Lieutenant-General Kobinson, Mr. Elliot, and Mr. William Smith, 
to represent, as he said, the true state of Major Andre's case. 
General Greene met Kobinson, and had a conversation with him ; 
in which he reiterated the pretence of a flag ; urged Andre's re 
lease as a personal favor to Sir Henry Clinton ; and offered any 


friend of ours, in their power, in exchange. Nothing could have 
been more frivolous than the plea which was used. The fact 
was, that beside the time, manner, object of the interview, change 
of dress, and other circumstances, there was not a single formal 
ity customary with flags ; and the passport was not to Major 
Andre, but to Mr. Anderson. But had there been, on the con 
trary, all the formalities, it would be an abuse of language to say, 
that the sanction of a flag for corrupting an officer to betray his 
trust, ought to be respected. So unjustifiable a purpose, would 
not only destroy its validity, but make it an aggravation. 

Andre, himself, has answered the argument, by ridiculing and 
exploding the idea, in his examination before the Board of Offi 
cers. It was a weakness to urge it. 

There was, in truth, no way of saving him. Arnold, or he, 
must have been the victim : the former was out of our power. 

It was by some suspected, Arnold had taken his measures in 
such a manner, that if the interview had been discovered in the 
act, it might have been in his power to sacrifice Andre to his 
own security. This surmise of double treachery, made them 
imagine Clinton might be induced to give up Arnold for 
Andre" ; and a gentleman took occasion to suggest this expedi 
ent to the latter, as a thing that might be proposed by him. He 
declined it. The moment he had been capable of so much frail 
ty, I should have ceased to esteem him. 

The infamy of Arnold's conduct previous to his desertion, is 
only equalled by his baseness since. Beside the folly of writing 
to Sir Henry Clinton, assuring him that Andre had acted under 
a passport from him, and according to his directions while com 
manding officer at a post ; and that, therefore, he did not doubt, 
he would be immediately sent in ; he had the effrontery to write 
to General Washington in the same spirit ; with the addition of 
a menace of retaliation, if the sentence should be carried into 
execution. He has since acted the farce of sending in his resig 
nation. This man is, in every sense, despicable. Added to the 
scene of knavery and prostitution during his command in Phil 
adelphia, which the late seizure of his papers has unfolded ; the 
history of his command at West Point is a history of little, as 

182 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [J&r. 23. 

well as great, villanies. He practised every dirty art of pecula 
tion ; and even stooped to connections with the suttlers of the 
garrison, to defraud the public. 

To his conduct, that of the captors of Andre forms a striking 
contrast. He tempted them with the offer of his watch, his 
horse, and any sum of money they should name. They re 
jected his offers with indignation : and the gold that could 
seduce a man high in the esteem and confidence of his country, 
who had the remembrance of past exploits, the motives of present 
reputation and future glory, to prop his integrity, had no charms 
for three simple peasants, leaning only on their virtue and an 
honest sense of their duty. While Arnold is handed down, 
with execration, to future times, posterity will repeat, with reve 
rence, the names of Van Wart, Paulding, and Williams. 

I congratulate you, my friend, on our happy escape from the 
mischiefs with which this treason was big. It is a new comment 
on the value of an honest man, and if it were possible, would 
endear you to me more than ever. 




POUGHKEEPSIE, Sept. 10, 1780. 


I am very apprehensive the unhappy event, mentioned in 
your favor of the fifth instant, will draw very serious conse 
quences in its train. It will certainly much embarrass us, and 
probably retard the termination of the war. It will, however, 
be attended with one good ; the adherents, in Congress, to the 
gallant Commander, will not have it any longer in their power 
to play him off against the General. Gracious God ! that any 
rational being should put two men in competition, one of which 
has commanded an army, the other only been at the head of one ; 
for I aver, that when he was to the northward, he never made a 
disposition of his troops. Indeed he was incapable : he never 


saw an enemy, except at a good distance, and from places of 
perfect security. Indeed, indeed, lie has not lost a whit, in my 
estimation, by this stroke of his. 

The General will have shown you extracts from the Senate 
and Assembly's Addresses to the Governor. A Committee of 
both Houses is appointed to report on the proceedings of the 
Convention : they will certainly adopt and extend the views of 
that Convention. Some here are for appointing a Dictator, with 
a Vice Dictator in each State, invested with all the powers con 
ferred formerly by the Eoman people on theirs. I made great 
interest to be left out of the delegation, and obtained it, although 
not without much difficulty. General M'Dougal is appointed in 
my stead : but I believe I shall be obliged to go to the eastern 
Convention. If so, I shall not repair to Khode Island so soon 
as I intended. 

Colonel Warner is wounded, and two of his officers killed 
near Fort Edward. 

Pray make my respects acceptable to the General, to the 
gentlemen of the family, the Marquis, and those of his. 

I am, dear Sir, 

Very affectionately and sincerely, 
Your most obedient servant, 


I forgot to inform the General that the Governor had sent 
him an extract of the proceedings of the Convention which I 
had promised to transmit. 


POUGHKEEPSIE, September 16, 1780. 


The great scarcity of wheat before harvest, and the drought 
since, has prevented the agent appointed to collect the supply 
required from this State, to deliver it to the Issuing Commissary ; 

184 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [^Er. 23. 

and we are at least ten thousand barrels in arrears ; the wheat 
for all which is already assessed, a considerable quantity of it 
brought to the mills to be manufactured, and the remainder 
daily collecting. Hence, unless a second drought should prevail, 
our deficiency can be made good in the course of a month : and 
this may be relied on. But should the army actually be in 
operation, I do not make a doubt but that the hand of Govern 
ment will be laid on all in the country ; and, in that case, a con 
stant supply can be kept up so as to complete to thirty thousand 
barrels, and perhaps half as much more, should Congress order 
the quota of Pennsylvania (if she deigns to furnish any) to be 
sold, and the money transmitted to this State. Exclusive of the 
wheat already assessed to complete our quota of flour, the inhab 
itants of Tryon County, and the western part of Albany, are 
threshing. This the Legislature has ordered to be purchased for 
a State Magazine, should we not be able to purchase the whole. 
The whole may, however, be obtained, and without delay, if an 
operation takes place : to procure flour casks is the greatest difn- 
culty. I wish those at West Point were ordered to be immedi 
ately put in order : those, and an aid of bags, may be necessary. 

I have communed with the Governor on the subject of 
M'Henry's wish. He is very much disposed to use his influence 
on the occasion, but doubts if he should be able to obtain a 
Lieutenancy, unless the Ensigns that now are, could all be pro 
vided for. If M'Henry merely wants military rank for the cam 
paign, and will not accept of an Ensigncy, the Governor can, 
and will, give him a Lieutenant-Colonelcy in the State Levies, 
which will always give him rank in our militia, and, conse 
quently, in the army, when the militia is in the field. But this 
must be determined before the Legislature rises. Please, there 
fore, to desire M'Henry to write me on the subject without 
delay, and to assure him of the best services in my power. 

If I knew when you would be at Fishkill, if you pass that 
way, I would meet you there. Or if I believed it would not be 
disagreeable to the General, I would go to Hartford, as I wish to 
see the other Sachem. 

A spirit favorable to the common cause, has pervaded almost 


both Houses. They begin to talk of a Dictator and Yice Dicta 
tors, as if it was a thing that was already determined on. To 
the Convention to be held at Hartford, I believe I shall be sent, 
with instructions to propose that a Dictator should be appointed. 

I have just seen Yan Schaick's whim. There is not one 
Lieutenancy vacant. 

I have had the inclosed several days with me, for want of a 
conveyance. Please to dispatch the bearer as expeditiously back 
as you can. Compliments to all. 

I am, dear Sir, affectionately' yours, etc., 


Colonel Hamilton. 


25th September, 1780. . 


There has just been unfolded at this place a scene of the 
blackest treason. Arnold has fled to the enemy Andre, the 
British Adjutant General, is in our possession as a spy. His 
capture unravelled the mystery. 

West Point was to have been the sacrifice. All the dispo 
sitions have been made for the purpose, and 'tis possible, though 
not probable, we may still see the execution. The wind is fair. 
I came here in pursuit of Arnold, but was too late. I advise 
your putting the army under marching orders, and detaching a 
brigade immediately this way. 

I am, with great regard, 

Your most obedient servant, 


To Major General Greene. 

186 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [2Eto. 23. 


September 25, 1780. 

Arnold, hearing of the plot being detected, immediately fled 
to the enemy. I went in pursuit of him, but was much too late ; 
and could hardly regret the disappointment, when, on my return, 
I saw an amiable woman, frantic with distress for the loss of a 
husband she tenderly loved ; a traitor to his country and to his 
fame ; a disgrace to his connections : it was the most affecting 
scene I ever was witness to. She, for a considerable time, en 
tirely lost herself. The General went up to see her, and she up 
braided him with being in a plot to murder her child. One mo 
ment she raved, another she melted into tears. Sometimes she 
pressed her infant to her bosom, and lamented its fate, occasioned 
by the imprudence of its father, in a manner that would have 
pierced insensibility itself. All the sweetness of beauty, all the 
loveliness of innocence, all the tenderness of a wife, and all the 
fondness of a mother, showed themselves in her appearance and 
conduct. We have every reason to believe, that she was entirely 
unacquainted with the plan, and that the first knowledge of it, 
was when Arnold went to tell her he must banish himself from 
his country and from her for ever. She instantly fell into a con 
vulsion, and he left her in that situation. 

This morning she is more composed. I paid her a visit, and 
endeavored to soothe her by every method in my power ; though 
you may imagine she is not easily to be consoled. Added to her 
other distresses, she is very apprehensive the resentment of her 
country will fall upon her (who is only unfortunate) for the guilt 
of her husband. 

I have tried to persuade her that her fears are ill founded ; 
but she will not be convinced. She received us in bed, with 
every circumstance that would interest our sympathy : and her 
sufferings were so eloquent, that I wished myself her brother, to 
have a right to become her defender. As it is, I have entreated 
her to enable me to give her proofs of my friendship. Could I 
forgive Arnold for sacrificing his honor, reputation, and duty, I 

jE T . 23.] CORRESPONDENCE. 187 

could not forgive him for acting a part that must have forfeited 
the esteem of so fine a woman. At present she almost forgets 
his crime in his misfortunes ; and her horror at the guilt of the 
traitor, is lost in her love of the man. But a virtuous mind can 
not long esteem a base one ; and time will make her despise if it 
cannot make her hate. 



TAPPAN, Oct. 2, 1780. 

Poor Andre suffers to-day. Every thing that is amiable in 
virtue, in fortitude, in delicate sentiment, and accomplished man 
ners, pleads for him : but hard-hearted policy calls for a sacrifice. 

He must die . I send you my account of Arnold's affair ; 

and to justify myself to your sentiments, I must inform you, that 
I urged a compliance with Andrews request to be shot ; and I do 
not think it would have had an ill effect : but some people are 
only sensible to motives of policy, and sometimes, from a nar 
row disposition, mistake it. 

When Andre's tale comes to be told, and present resentment 
is over ; the refusing him the privilege of choosing the manner 
of his death will be branded with too much otstinacy. 

It was proposed to me to suggest to him the idea of an ex 
change for Arnold ; but I knew I should have forfeited his es 
teem by doing it, and therefore declined it. As a man of honor 
he could not but reject it ; and I would not for the world have 
proposed to him a thing which must have placed me in the un- 
amiable light of supposing him capable of meanness, or of not 
feeling myself the impropriety of the measure. I confess to you, 
I had the weakness to value the esteem of a dying man, because 

I reverenced his merit. 


188 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [Mi. 23. 


ALBANY, October 10, 1780. 


I am still confined to my room, but believe my disorder has 
taken a favorable turn, and that I shall soon be tolerably re 

Colonel Yan Schaick informs me that he is ordered down 
with his regiment. We are so sadly off here for directors, that 
I most sincerely wish he had been permitted to remain here : 
his deafness will render him little serviceable with his regi 

I am informed that some people have recommended, or intend 
to recommend, to the General, to evacuate Fort Schuyler. I 
hope it will not take place, as the enemy would immediately oc 
cupy the ground, and make it a receptacle for Indians and tories, 
from whence to pour destruction on the country. A certain 
Lieutenant Laird, of the militia, who was carried off, or went off 
voluntarily, with Sir John Johnson, when last in the country, is 
returned, and advises that about two thousand men were col 
lected at St. John's to make separate attacks on the Grants, Sara 
toga, and the Mohawk river. If this be true, it was probably 
intended as a co-operating plan, if Sir Harry had come up the 
river. An Express is this moment arrived, announcing that 
about five hundred men of the enemy are arrived at the Canajo- 
harie Falls. If this should be confirmed, I shall venture to ad 
vise Yan Schaick to detain his regiment, and hope it will meet 
the General's approbation. It is said the enemy are fortifying at 
Oswego. I hope the garrison for that place will be speedily 
sent up. 

When do you intend to be here ? Who will accompany you ? 
Is it probable the General will pay us a visit in winter ? I most 
earnestly wish it. Will you make my excuses to the Marquis 
for my not writing him : the Doctor will not permit me ; but 
what is worse, I really have not strength as yet. Entreat the 


General to accept of my best wishes : the family share in them. 
Adieu, my dear sir. 

I am, affectionately, 

Yours, etc., etc., 

Colonel Hamilton. 


BOSTON, October 12, 1780. 

I was much obliged to you, my dear sir, for the letter which 
you did me the favor to write me since your return to Boston. 
I am sorry to find that the same spirit of indifference to public 
affairs prevails. It is necessary we should rouse, and begin to do 
our business in earnest, or we shall play a losing game. It is 
impossible the contest can be much longer supported on the 
present footing. We must have a Government with more power. 
We must have a tax in kind. We must have a foreign loan. 
We must have a Bank, on the true principles of a Bank. We 
must have an Administration distinct from Congress, and in the 
hands of single men under their orders. We must, above all 
things, have an army for the war, and an establishment that will 
interest the officers in the service. 

Congress are deliberating on our military affairs : but I ap 
prehend their resolutions will be tinctured with the old spirit. 
We seem to be proof against experience. They will, however, 
recommend an army for the war, at least as a primary object. 
All those who love their country, ought to exert their influence 
in the States where they reside, to determine them to take up 
this object with energy. The States must sink under the burden 
of temporary enlistments ; and the enemy will conquer us by 
degrees during the intervals of our weakness. 

Clinton is now said to be making a considerable detachment 
to the southward. My fears are high, my hopes low. We are 
told here, there is to be a Congress of the neutral powers at the 
Hague, for mediating of peace. God send it may be true. We 

190 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [Mv. 23. 

want it : but if the idea goes abroad, ten to one if we do not 
fancy the thing done, and fall into a profound sleep till the can 
non of the enemy awaken us next campaign. This is our na 
tional character. 

I am, with great regard, dear Sir, 

Your most obedient servant, 



Oct. 18, 1780. 


Since my last to you, I have had the pleasure of receiving 
two letters from you. I am sorry to find we do not seem to 
agree in the proper remedies to our disorder, at least in the 
practicability of applying those which are proper. Convinced, 
as I am, of the absolute insufficiency of our present system to 
our safety, if I do not despair of the Eepublic, it is more the 
effect of constitution than of judgment. 

With the sentiments I entertain of Gates, I cannot but take 
pleasure in his removal; and with the confidence I have in 
Greene, I expect much from his being the successor ; at least, I 
expect all his circumstances will permit. You seem to have 
mistaken me on the subject of this gentleman. When I spoke 
of prejudice, I did not suppose it to exist with you, but with 
Congress as a body ; at least with a great part of them. The 
part they have taken in the affair, in my opinion, does honor to 
their impartiality. I hope they will support the officer appointed 
with a liberal confidence ; his situation surrounded with difficul 
ties will need support. Of your influence for this purpose I am 
too thoroughly persuaded of your patriotism, my dear sir, to 

Be assured, my dear sir, the marks of your regard give me a 
sincere pleasure, and I shall be always happy to cultivafe it, and 
to give you proofs of my affectionate attachment. 




SARATOGA, Oct. 19th, 1780. 


Your favor of the 12th. inst., I had the pleasure to receive 
last night. Major Carlton, as you will have heard, has been 
down to the vicinity of this place, at the head of eight hundred 
British, about two hundred enlisted tories, and as many Indians. 
Fort Ann and Fort George fell into his hands ; he burnt Kings 
and Queensborough townships, and the north part of this dis 
trict, to within five miles of my house. The three months' men 
have evacuated Fort Edward, so that I have nobody between 
me and the enemy except two poor families, and about one hun 
dred militia with me ; on the 17th about one hundred and fifty 
of the enemy burnt Balstown, which lies about twenty miles 
below me and about twelve miles west of the road leading to 
Albany; another party is about eighteen miles east of me, 
where they have burnt about ten houses. The very valuable 
settlement of Schoharie, which lays west of Albany, was also 
entirely consumed on the 17th instant. Thus are we surrounded 
from every quarter, and the inhabitants flying down the country. 
I believe my turn will be in a few days, unless troops are sent 
up. Carlton is at Ticonderoga and Mount Independence, and 
waits a reinforcement, which is momentarily expected ; my 
informant says he intends a second tour to destroy the settle 
ments on this river, as far as to where the Mohawk Kiver falls 
into it, which is about twenty -four miles below this. I most 
sincerely wish that some continental troops were hastened up 
for the protection of the county. I entreated Yan Schaick to 


Col. Hamilton, from 

Gren'l Schuyler. 

192 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [M?. 23. 


October 27, 1780. 


We are only leaving Philadelphia. The most flattering 
attentions have been paid to Meade and myself, and such as 
would not permit us to progress before, unless we had shown 
ourselves entirely disregardless of the great world. Besides, 
motives of a public nature concurred to make us stay thus 
long. From all I have seen and heard, there is a good dispo 
sition in Congress to do all they can for the army and the public 
interest ; and there are many very sensible men among them. In 
general, they are most warmly attached to the General ; and his 
recommendations will have their weight while the same spirit pre 
vails. It is said there has been infinitely more harmony among 
them for some time past, than has appeared since the first years 
of their appointment. I am not, however, without some appre 
hension, that if they proceed in the case of Lee, etc., the MONSTER 
(PARTY) may show itself again, and that we may have a second 
edition of the measures adopted in the instance of Deane. Our 
friends Sullivan and Carroll have been of great service : and 
gentlemen who are, or pretend to be, in the secrets of the cabi 
net, say they have contributed immeasurably, by their independ 
ent conduct, to destroy the EASTERN ALLIANCE. Bland is very 
clever, and without question wishes to push on in the true and 
right road. Grayson says this is the best Congress we have had 
since the first. Our dear Laurens respects many of the mem 
bers : and General Greene's appointment, I believe, is entirely 
consonant to the wishes of Congress in general, though we have 
heard there were members much disposed, if facts had not been 
so obstinate, to excuse General Gates. The former is here, and 
I suppose will set out in a day or two. Meade and I will serve 
him all we can. We have done what we could already. Apro 
pos, you delivered him my letter. Our finances are entirely 
deranged, and there is little or no money in the treasury. I be 
lieve they are a subject of much consideration and puzzlement. 


The supplies of the army are also matters of present attention, 
but I don't know what will be done. I hope we shall, by 
Christmas, have some clothing from the West Indies, if the moth 
have not destroyed it: a quantity, it is said, has been lying 
there. It is much to be wished that General Greene were at the 
South. The delegates from that quarter think the situation of 
Cornwallis delicate, and that by management, and a proper appli 
cation and use of the force there, the late check given Furguson 
might be improved into the Earl's total defeat. This, I fear, is 
too much even to hope. The sending the Baron is considered, 
as far as I have heard, perfectly right, and Lee's corps give great 
satisfaction. I am just about to mount my horse, and therefore 
shall say but little more. Laurens will write unto you in a few 
days, I suppose, and communicate any new occurrences. My 
love to the lads of the family. The same to you. May you be 
long happy. My most respectful compliments to the General. 

Most truly and affectionately, 

P. S. The Board have been absolutely too poor to procure 
parchment for the many promotions that have been required. 




I shall be obliged to you for the answer to the address, as 
soon as it is convenient to you. If we do not ride to the Point 
to see the fleet pass out, I am to have a conference with Count 
de Kochambeau, and the engineer, directly after breakfast, at 
which I wish you to be present. 

I am sincerely and affectionately yours, 

Half-past, A. M. 

VOL. i. 13 

194 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [-ffii. 23. 


November 22d, 1780. 

Inclosed, my dear Hamilton, I send you a letter for Mr. De 
Marbois, wherein are contained two exemplaires of my dis 
patches to Doctor Franklin. In the hurry of our arrangement, 
I forgot to mention them to the General. Be pleased to give 
him a summary of their contents, to which I have added the 
southern news of yesterday. Tell him that, knowing from ex 
perience, how negligent we were in sending accounts to Europe, 
I take upon myself to forward such as may influence mediating 
powers in case of a negotiation. 

I have made a calculation about boats, and think that if we 
act upon a large scale in the Staten Island expedition, we ought 
to have forty boats about a thousand (the hundred artillery in 
cluded) for the watering place and Eichmond ; your attack 
should have two hundred. In this calculation I put the staff 
and other officers, &c., twelve hundred men, or thirty per boat, 
makes forty boats ; at least we ought not to have much less. 

Let me know, my dear friend, if what we were speaking of 
last night, and the night before last, will be complied with. In 
consequence of what was said by the General, I was set at lib 
erty to speak fully to G., who was charmed with the beauty and 
propriety of the thing. I am fully, fully of opinion that we 
would be very sorry not to go (at least conditionally), upon that 
plan, which perhaps will be as easy as any thing else : we may 
even say, il est beau meme d'en tomber. Adieu; write me 
upon what scale, that I may prepare my troops. To-morrow 
we must carry your private affair. Show me your letter before 

you give it. 





November 22, 1780. 


Some time last fall, when I spoke to your Excellency about 
going to the southward, I explained to you candidly my feelings 
with respect to military reputation ; and how much it was my 
object to act a conspicuous part in some enterprise, that might 
perhaps raise my character as a soldier above mediocrity. You 
were so good as to say, you would be glad to furnish me with 
an occasion. When the expedition to Staten Island was afoot, 
a favorable one seemed to offer. There was a battalion without 
a field officer, the command of which, I thought, as it was acci 
dental, might be given to me without inconvenience. I made 
an application for it through the Marquis, who informed me of 
your refusal on two principles : one, that the giving me a whole 
battalion might be a subject of dissatisfaction; the other, that if 
any accident should happen to me in the present state of your 
family, you would be embarrassed for the necessary assistance. 

The project you now have in contemplation affords another 
opportunity. I have a variety of reasons, that press me to desire 
ardently to have it in my power to improve it. I take the lib 
erty to observe, that the command may now be proportioned to 
my rank ; and that the second objection ceases to operate, as, 
during the period of establishing our winter quarters, there will 
be a suspension of material business : besides which, my peculiar 
situation will, in any case, call me away from the army in a few 
days, and Mr. Harrison may be expected back early next month. 
My command may consist of one hundred and fifty or two hun 
dred men, composed of fifty men of Major Gibbes' corps, fifty 
from Colonel Meigs' regiment, and fifty or a hundred more from 
the light infantry: Major Gibbes to be my Major. The hundred 

men from here may move on Friday morning towards , 

which will strengthen the appearances for Staten Island, to form 
a junction on the other side of the Passaic. 

196 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [^T. 23. 

I suggest this mode to avoid the complaints that might arise 
from composing my party wholly of the Light Infantry, which 
might give umbrage to the officers of that corps, who, on this 
plan, can have no just subject for it. 

The primary idea may be, if circumstances permit, to attempt 
with my detachment Bayard's Hill. Should we arrive early 
enough to undertake it, I should prefer it to any thing else, both 
for the brilliancy of the attempt in itself, and the decisive conse 
quence of which its success would be productive. If we arrive 
too late to make this eligible (as there is reason to apprehend), 
my corps may form the van of one of the other attacks, and 
Bayard's Hill will be a pretext for my being employed in the 
affair, on a supposition of my knowing the ground, which is 
partly true. I flatter myself, also, that my military character 
stands so well in the army, as to reconcile the officers, in general, 
to the measure. All circumstances considered, I venture to say, 
any exceptions which might be taken, would be unreasonable. 

I take this method of making the request, to avoid the em 
barrassment of a personal explanation. I shall only add, that 
however much I have the matter at heart, I wish your Excel 
lency entirely to consult your own inclination, and not, from a 
disposition to oblige me, to do any thing that may be disagree 
able to you. It will, nevertheless, make me singularly happy 
if your wishes correspond with mine. 


PARAMUS, November 28, 1780. 


Here I arrived last night, and am going to set out for Phila 
delphia. Gouvion goes straight to New Windsor, and by him I 
write to the General. I speak of Hand and Smith, whom I re 
commend, and add : "If, however, you were to cast your eye on 


a man, who, I think, would suit better than any other in the 
world, Hamilton is, I confess, the officer whom I would like best 
to see in my * * * * *." Then I go on with the idea, that, at 
equal advantages, you deserve from him the preference; that 
your advantages are the greatest ; I speak of a co-operation ; of 
your being in the family ; and conclude, that on every public 
and private account I advise him to take you. 

I know the General's friendship and gratitude for you, my 
dear Hamilton : both are greater than you perhaps imagine. I 
am sure he needs only to be told that something will suit you, 
and when he thinks he can do it he certainly will. Before this 
campaign I was your friend, and very intimate friend, agreeably 
to the ideas of the world. Since my second voyage, my senti 
ment has increased to such a point the world knows nothing 
about. To show loth, from want and from scorn of expressions, 
I shall only tell you Adieu. 




NEWPORT, 4th Dec., 1780. 


The ill state of my health obliges me to request permission 
to return to France, for as short a time as possible. I must, be 
fore my departure, acquit myself of the double duty of thanking 
you for the favors with which you have honored me, and of 
soliciting your orders for my country. The satisfaction I feel of 
being chosen to accompany the Marquis de la Fayette, and of 
executing under his orders, the dispositions necessary to the 
arrival of the French army, which, as an interesting period of 
my life, will not be superior to that of returning to give our 
great and good General Washington new proofs of my zeal. I 
shall always be honored in being reckoned one of your most 

198 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [Mr. 23. 

faithful comrades. I wish that happiness, success and glory 
follow you for ever. 

I am, with everlasting attachment, 

Your most humble and most obedient servant, 


Lt. Colonel of Cavalry. 

I pray you to present my friendship and full compliments to 
the General's family. 

Col. Hamilton. 



Je vous prie, mon cher Colonel, de lire les papiers ci-joints, 
ils vous mettront au fait de ce dont il s'agit. Nous avons deja 
parle ensemble de cet objet, ainsi il est inutile d'y revenir, il est 
certain qui si Son Excellence ne vous favorit point dans ces 
occasions, il nous est absolument impossible pour nous memes 
de nous tirer d'embarras. L'homme dont il est question, et qui est 
celui qui vous remettra cette lettre, sert lui-meme a prouver le 
peu de ressources que nous avons dans ce genre. M. de Yelle- 
franche en avait ete si mecontent la campagne derniere, qu'il 
Tavait renvoye, et n'en voulait plus entendre parler. L'impos- 
sibilite d'en trouver un autre le force de le reprendre il tie 
demande pas mieux assurement que de le changer, il fait tous ses 
efforts pour cela, il frappe a toutes les portes, mais inutilement. 

II est bien aise de faire de belles loix pour corriger les abus ; 
tout le monde voit les abus, tout le monde peut ce faire valoir en 
declamant d'autre, mais determiner, presques les circonstances 
permettent, de corriger 1'abus, en supprimant des moyens abusifs- 
defaire une chose en substituer d'autres voila ceque les Beforma- 
teurs Croyans ne font pas toujours. 

Yous expliquerez cela a qui il appartient, probablement vous 


ne vous tromperez pas, aii fait dont je vous prie de donner a 
M. de Yillefranclie un mot comme vous 1'avez donn a M. de 

Je suis, mon clier Colonel, dans une totale defaute de livres 
anglais; j'en ai reluque un sur la table aujourd 'hui, que le 
Colonel Harrison m'a dit que vous lisiez, mais je pense que vous 
ne lisez pas les deux volumes a la fois. Si vous pouviez m'en 
preter un, vous obligiriez beaucoup votre tres humble serviteur. 


Je vous prie de me renvoyer les papiers en cachets. 

Col. Hamilton. 


PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 9, 1780. 


On my arrival at Paramus, I wrote a letter to the General, 
which Colonel Gouvion was to deliver to himself at New Wind 
sor; so that more expedition had been made than you had 
thought. But the General having unfortunately altered his 
mind, and taken the road to Morristown, another misfortune 
threw Hand in his way ; and remembering your advice on the 
occasion, he hastened to make him the proposition, and in con 
sequence of it wrote his letter to Congress. From Paramus I 
went myself to the Lots, and from thence to Morristown, where 
I met the General ; and knowing that my letter could not reach 
him under some days, I became regardless of your wishes, and 
made a verbal application in my own name, and about the same 
time that had been settled between us. I can't express to you, 
my dear friend, how sorry and disappointed I felt, when I knew 
from him, the General, that (greatly in consequence of your ad 
vice) he had settled the whole matter with Hand, and written for 
him to Congress. I confess I became warmer on the occasion 



than you would perhaps have wished me to be ; and I wanted 
the General to allow my sending an express, who would have 
overtaken the letter, as it was in the hands of General St. Clair : 
but the General did not think it to be a convenient measure ; 
and, I confess, I may have been a little blinded on its propriety. 
I took care not to compromise you in this affair, when the General 
expressed a desire to serve you, and in a manner you would 
have been satisfied with. Now for the voyage to France. 

Congress seem resolved that an Envoy be sent in the way you 
wish, and this was yesterday determined in the House. Next 
Monday the gentleman will be elected. I have already spoken 
to many members. I know of a number of voices that will be 
for you. This day, and that of to-morrow, will be by me em 
ployed in paying visits. As soon as the business is fixed upon, 
I shall send you an express. I think you ought to hold your 
self in readiness, and in case you are called for, come with all 
possible speed ; for you must go immediately, that you may 
have returned before the beginning of operations. If you go, my 
dear sir, I shall give you all public or private knowledge about 
Europe I am possessed of. Besides many private letters, that 
may introduce you to my friends, I intend giving you the key of 
the cabinet, as well as of the societies which influence them. In 
a word, my good friend, any thing in my power shall be entirely 


ALBANY, Dec. 9, 1780. 


Mr. Eensselaer, who has the direction of the Armory here, 
tells me that the Board of War write him, they are unable to 
support it any longer on the present establishment for want of 
supplies, and propose to him to endeavor to have it carried on 
by contract. This he declares is impossible. The Armory must 
either continue on the present footing or cease. As far as I un- 


derstand the matter, there is no objection to the terms in them 
selves, but a want of means to comply with them. If there is a 
want of means, the thing must be relinquished ; but as it does 
not strike me that it can be more difficult to maintain an Armory 
here than elsewhere ; and as I apprehend, in the present state of 
Arsenals, we shall stand in need of all the repairing we can do ; 
I take the liberty, at "Mr. Kensselaer's request, to mention the 
matter to you. I have seen the Armory myself. It appears to 
be in excellent order, and under a very ingenious and industri 
ous man. I am told it has been conducted hitherto with great 
activity. Its situation is, in my opinion, advantageous. As 
there is a considerable body of troops always at West Point, and 
the army generally in its vicinity, the river is very convenient 
for transportation to and from the Armory ; and, I should think, 
would be conducive to economy. This consideration strikes me 
as of importance. General Knox, however, will be the best 
judge of the usefulness of this Armory. 

Mr. Rensselaer also mentions a considerable number of hides 
in the hands of persons here who had had orders from the 
Clothier-General not to dispose of them but by his order. He 
says he can no longer, but with great difficulty, procure leather 
for the public works on credit ; and has requested me to men 
tion this also to your Excellencey. 

Mrs. Hamilton presents her respectful compliments to Mrs. 
Washington and yourself. After the holidays we shall be at 
head quarters. 

I believe I imparted to you General Schuyler's wish that you 
could make it convenient to pay a visit with Mrs. Washington 
this winter. He and Mrs. Schuyler have several times repeated 
their inquiries and wishes. I have told them I was afraid your 
business would not permit you : if it should I shall be happy. 
You will enable me to let them know about what period it will 
suit. When the sleighing arrives, it will be an affair of two 
days up and two days down. 

I have, etc., 


202 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [Mi. 23. 


NEW- WINDSOR, Dec. 27, 1780. 


Your letter of the 19th came safe by the Doctor, who set out 
this morning for Philadelphia. 

I had, previous to the receipt of it, and without knowledge 
that the Board of War had given any direction respecting the 
Armory at Albany, requested the Governor to exempt (if he 
could do so with propriety) the citizens who were employed in it, 
from military services in case of alarm ; and had written to Gen 
eral Clinton to direct the Quarter-Master to afford every assist 
ance in his power to have the work repaired, and the business, 
as far as depended upon him, accelerated. I have now given 
order for delivery of such hides as Mr. Eensselaer shall find 
absolutely necessary for the use of the Armory. 

Although a trip to Albany, on more accounts than one, would 
be perfectly agreeable to my wishes, I am so far from having it 
in my power, at this time, to fix a period for this gratification of 
them, that I have but small hope of accomplishing it at all this 
winter. There are some matters in suspense which may make a 
journey to Ehode Island necessary ; but as the subject is not fit 
for a letter, I shall withhold the communication till I see you. 

A second embarkation has taken place at New-York. The 
strength of the detachment, or its destination, are vaguely re 
ported ; and no certainty under whose command it goes. Arnold 
is said to be of it ; from whence the connections conclude that 
New-Haven or New-London must infallibly be the object, while 
more rational conjecturers send it to the southward, from whence 
no late accounts have been received. 

Mrs. Washington most cordially joins me in compliments of 
congratulation to Mrs. Hamilton and yourself, on the late happy 
event of your marriage, and in wishes to see you both at head 
quarters. We beg of you to present our respectful compliments 
to General Schuyler, his lady and family, and offer them strong 


assurances of the pleasure we should feel at seeing them at New- 

With much truth, and great personal regard, 

I am, dear Hamilton, 
Your affectionate friend and servant, 



January 10, 1781. 


General Du Portail being on his way to the northward, gives 
me an opportunity to write you, which I should have done 
before, had not my letters to His Excellency contained as full 
information of the state of things as I was able to give, from the 
little time I had been in the department. 

When I was appointed to this command, I expected to meet 
with many new and singular difficulties; but they infinitely 
exceed what I apprehended. This is really carrying on a war 
in an enemy's country ; for you cannot establish the most incon 
siderable magazine, or convey the smallest quantity of stores 
from one post to another, without being obliged to detach guards 
for their security. The division among the people is much 
greater than I imagined ; and the whigs and tories persecute 
each other with little less than savage fury. There is nothing 
but murders and devastations in every quarter. 

The loss of our army at Charleston, and the defeat of Gen 
eral Gates, has been the cause of keeping such shoals of militia 
011 foot ; and their service has been accompanied with such de 
struction and loss, as has almost laid waste the whole country. 
Nothing has been more destructive to the true interest of this 
country than the mode adopted for its defence. Two misfortunes 
happening one after the other, may have rendered it unavoidable 
the last season ; but should it be continued, the inhabitants are 
inevitably ruined, and the resources of the country rendered inca 
pable of affording support to an army competent to its defence. 

204 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [Mi. 24. 

Government here is infinitely more popular than to the north 
ward ; and there is no such thing as national character or national 
sentiment. The inhabitants are from all quarters of the globe, 
and as various in their opinions, projects, and schemes, as their 
manners and habits are from their early education. Those in 
office, from a vanity to be thought powerful, join in the measure 
of imposing upon the public respecting the strength and resour 
ces of these southern States : and while Congress, and the min 
ister of France, are kept under this fatal delusion, I fear little 
support will be given to this department. The inhabitants are 
numerous ; but they would be rather formidable abroad than at 
home. They are scattered over such a vast extent of country, 
that it is difficult to collect, and still more difficult to subsist 
them. There is a great spirit of enterprise among the black 
people ; and those that come out as volunteers are not a ' little 
formidable to the enemy. There are, also, some particular corps 
under Sumpter, Marion, and Clarke, that are bold and daring ; 
the rest of the militia are better calculated to destroy provisions 
than oppose the enemy. 

At Philadelphia, and all my journey through the country, I 
endeavored to impress upon those in power, the necessity of 
sending clothing, and supplies of every kind, immediately to 
this army. But poverty was urged as a plea, in bar to every ap 
plication. They all promised fair, but I fear will do but little : 
ability is wanting with some, and inclination with others. 

Public credit is so totally lost, that private people will not 
give their aid, though they see themselves involved in one com 
mon ruin. It is my opinion that General Washington's influence 
will do more than all the assemblies upon the continent. I al 
ways thought him exceeding popular ; but in many places he is 
little less than adored, and universally admired. His influence 
in this country might possibly effect something great. How 
ever, I found myself exceedingly well received, but more from 
being the friend of the General, than from my own merit. 

This country wants, for its defence, a small but well appoint 
ed army, organized so as to move with great celerity. It should 
consist of about five thousand infantry, and from eight hundred 

J3i. 24.] CORRESPONDENCE. 205 

to a thousand horse. The enemy cannot maintain a larger force 
in this quarter, neither can we. The resources from the country 
are too small to subsist a large body of troops at any one point : 
and to draw supplies from a distance, through such long tracts 
of barren land, will be next to impossible, unless the business 
can be aided by a water transportation ; and, in either case, it 
will be accompanied with an amazing expense. Could we get a 
superiority of horse, we could soon render it difficult for Lord 
Cornwallis to hold his position so far in the country. Nor should 
I be under any apprehensions, with a much inferior force to his, 
of taking post near him, if I had but such a body of horse. But 
the enemy's horse is so much superior to ours, that we cannot 
move a detachment towards them without hazarding its ruin. 

When I came to the army, I found it in a most wretched 
condition. The officers had lost all confidence in the General, 
and the troops all their discipline. The troops had not only lost 
their discipline, but they were so addicted to plundering that 
they were a terror to the country. The General and I met at 
least upon very civil terms ; and he expressed the greatest hap 
piness at my being appointed to succeed him. 

General Smallwood and he were not upon good terms ; the 
former suspected the latter of having an intention to supplant 
him, but many think without reason. Others, again, are of 
opinion, his suspicions were well founded, and that Smallwood 
was not a little mortified at my being appointed to this depart 
ment, and got outrageous when he heard Baron Steuben was 
coming also. How the matter was, I know not ; certain it is, he 
is gone home, having refused to act under Baron Steuben, and 
declares he will not serve at aH, unless Congress will give him a 
commission, dated at least two years before his appointment. 
This, I think, can never happen, notwithstanding his private 
merit, and the claim of the State. The battle of Camden here 
is represented widely different from what it is to the northward. 

Colonel "Williams thinks that none of the general officers 
were entitled to any extraordinary merit. The action was short, 
and succeeded by a flight, wherein every body took care of him 
self, as well officers as soldiers. Not an officer, except Major 


Anderson, and one or two Captains, that brought off the field of 
battle a single soldier. The Colonel also says, that General 
Gates would have shared little more disgrace than is the common 
lot of the unfortunate, notwithstanding he was early off, if he 
had only halted at the Waxhaws or Charlotte the first about 
sixty, and the last about eighty miles from the field of battle. 
What little incidents either give or destroy reputation ! How 
many long hours a man may labor with an honest zeal in his 
country's service, and be disgraced for the most trifling error 
either in conduct or opinion ! Hume very justly observes, no 
man will have reputation unless he is useful to society, be his 
merit or abilities what they may. Therefore, it is necessary for a 
man to be fortunate, as well as wise and just. The greater part 
of the loss of the Maryland line, in the action of Camden, hap 
pened after they began to retreat : indeed, this was the case with 
all the troops. What gave Smallwood such great reputation, 
was his halt at Salisbury, which was nothing but accident. You 
know there are great parties prevailing in the Maryland line ; 
and perhaps his merit is not a little diminished on that account. 
I think him a brave and good officer, but too slow to effect any 
thing great in a department like this, where embarrassments are 
without number, and where nothing can be effected without the 
greatest promptitude and decision. This army is in such a 
wretched condition that I hardly know what to do with it. The 
officers have got such a habit of negligence, and the soldiers so 
loose and disorderly, that it is next to impossible to give it a 
military complexion. Without clothing, I am sure I shall never 
do it. I call no councils of war, and I communicate my inten 
tions to very few. The army was posted at Charlotte when I 
came up with it ; and in a council it had been determined to 
winter there; but the difficulty of procuring subsistence, and 
other reasons, induced me not only to take a new position, but 
to make an entire new disposition. All this I effected by a 
single order, having first made the necessary inquiry respecting 
the new positions, by sending a man to examine the grounds 
and other requisites. If I cannot inspire the army with confi 
dence and respect by an independent conduct, I foresee it will 


be impossible to instil discipline and order among the troops. 
General Leslie has arrived, and joined Lord Cornwallis, whose 
force now is more thaji three times larger than ours. And we 
are subsisting ourselves by our own industry; and I am not 
without hopes of forming something like a magazine. I am 
laboring also to get clothing from every quarter. Baron Steuben 
is in Virginia, and is indefatigable in equipping and forwarding 
the troops from that State. I left General Guest in Maryland for 
the same purpose ; but I have got nothing from there yet, nor 
do I expect much for months to come. The North Carolina 
State have such a high opinion of the militia, that I don't expect 
they will ever attempt to raise a single continental soldier ; not 
withstanding the most sensible among them will acknowledge 
the folly of employing militia. 

But I must have tried your patience, and therefore will make 
a full stop concerning matters in this department, and inquire 

how you go on to the northward. 


I beg my compliments to General Washington's family, to 
General Knox and his family, and all other of my acquaintances. 
I shall be exceedingly obliged to you if you will communi 
cate to me, with great freedom, every th^g worthy of note thaf 
is said or respects this department. 

Yours affectionately, 

To Col. Alexander Hamilton. 


January 13, 1781. 

What shall I say, or think, of my dear friend Hamilton? 
Not a single line from him since we parted. I will not, how 
ever, charge you, my dear fellow, with not having done your 
duty, .or, at least, of a want of inclination to do it : you may 

208 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [&T. 24. 

have complied fully with your promise, and your letters mis 
carried : mine probably have shared the same fate. This is the 
third since I got home. The first was writ shortly after General 
Greene's arrival at Eichmond, and committed to his care ; the 
second, telling you I was married, had not so favorable a pros 
pect of conveyance ; and this must take its chance. 

Arnold, you knew, was coming here. He has really been 
here, and, with shame be it said, marched twenty -five miles, and 
back, without having a single musket fired at him : but let me 
observe, in justice to the people at large, that there are fewer 
disaffected by far, in this State, than any other in the Union; 
and that the people turn out with the utmost cheerfulness. The 
misfortune, on the present invasion, was, that in the confusion 
the arms were sent every where, and no timely plan laid to put 
them into the hands of the men who were assembling. The 
Baron has, no doubt, given the General the particulars of the 
whole affair. Should he not have done it, I must refer you for 
them to Kivington's paper : he can hardly be himself, and say 
any thing on the subject that ought not to be credited. The 
damage, however, done by the enemy is not considerable, and 
much less than might have been expected from them. My 
friends have suffered.^ I have often felt much pain, my dear 
Hamilton, at scenes of the kind to the northward, but never in 
so great a degree as on this occasion. The nearest and dearest 
to me were within reach of the enemy ; wife, mother, brother, 
sister ; and all have shared deeply in the distress ; and, indeed, 
many of them were in personal danger, and my best friend of 
the number ; myself of course somewhat exposed. You possess 
a heart that can feel for me ; you have a female, too, that you 
love. After placing 

her, with at least twenty other females and children, at a safe 
distance, I immediately returned, and joined the Baron about the 
time the enemy left Eichmond, in order to render him all the 
aid I could, being intimately acquainted with the country for 
many miles in the vicinity of the enemy : and on their return 
down the river, I left him to go in pursuit of a residence for a 


favorite brother who was driven from his home, and obliged to 

attend to his wife and a family of little children. 

* * ***** 

This gives me an opening to speak of mj return to the army. 
I have been long wishing your advice in full on the occasion. 
You are acquainted with the arguments I have used in favor of 
my stay here. I have not, 

however, as yet, thrown off the uniform, but I am inclined to 
believe it must be the case. If we meet not again, my dear 
Hamilton, as brother aids, I still flatter myself that, in the course 
of time, we shall meet as the sincerest of friends. If you have 
not already writ to me, my dear fellow, let me entreat you, when 
you go about it, to fill a sheet in close hand. Say all about 
yourself first, and next, what may be most interesting and new 
to me, for I have not heard a syllable from camp since I left it. 
I wrote to the " Old Secretary " while he was in Virginia, but 
could not hear from him. Tell him that I suffered not a 
little on his account, for I conceived, for a long time, that his 
cousin's unlucky fall from his horse had happened to him : such 
an opinion had like to have carried me to Alexandria. 

I am under the necessity of concluding, but first let me pre 
sent my respects to the General and Mrs. Washington, my sin 
cerest esteem to the lads of the family, and every officer of the 

army whom you know I regard. 

* * * * * * * 

Your sincere friend, 



ALBANY, January 25, 1781. 


Yesterday I received your favor of the sixteenth instant. 
It affords me pleasure to learn that the Pennsylvania line is 
reduced to order ; but we in this quarter are on the point of 
VOL. i. 14 

210 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [JSi. 24. 

experiencing a similar commotion. Two regiments threaten to 
march to head quarters, unless some money is paid them, the 
certificates for the depreciation expedited, and, in future, better 
supplied with provisions. Yesterday, about three thousand 
bushels of wheat, six hundred pounds worth of beef, and three 
or four thousand dollars, were subscribed. I am in hopes we 
shall procure what will afford each man about ten dollars ; and 
I have some hopes that this, with a little management, will 

render them tolerably quiet. 

* * * * * -x- * 

Entreat the General and his lady to accept my best wishes. 
Do not forget to remember me to Colonels Harrison and 
Tilghman. Adieu. 

I am, dear Sir, 

Most affectionately, 

Yours, etc., etc., 

Colonel Hamilton. 



ALBANY, February 5, 1781. 

The plan you mention for supplying the armies in America, 
I should be exceedingly happy to see attempted ; but I fear Con 
gress will not venture on it, although they should be convinced 
of its eligibility. In the course of last year, I proposed it 
repeatedly to individual members, who generally approved, and 
once or twice took occasion to mention it in Congress ; but in 
the House no one dared to give his opinion. I am persuaded, if 
it was adopted, that a saving, at present almost inconceivable, 
would be induced, and an order and economy in the public ex 
penditures, which, whilst it would reconcile the minds of men to 
bear the public burthens with alacrity, would effectually eradicate 


the fears which too generally prevail, that we shall sink under 
the enormous weight of our expenses. 

I am, my dear Sir, 

Very affectionately, 

Yours, etc., etc., 

Colonel Hamilton. 


HEAD QUARTERS, NEW WINDSOR, February 18, 1781. 


Since I had the pleasure of writing you last, an unexpected 
change has taken place in my situation. I am no longer a mem 
ber of the General's family. This information will surprise you, 
and the manner of the change will surprise you more. Two 
days ago, the General and I passed each other on the stairs. He 
told me he wanted to speak to me. I answered that I would 
wait upon him immediately. I went below, and delivered Mr. 
Tilghman a letter to be sent to the commissary, containing an 
order of a pressing and interesting nature. 

Keturning to the General, I was stopped on the way by 
the Marquis de La Fayette, and we conversed together about a 
minute on a matter of business. He can testify how impatient I 
was to get back, and that I left him in a manner which, but for 
our intimacy, would have been more than abrupt. Instead of 
finding the General, as is usual, in his room, I met him at the 
head of the stairs, where, accosting me in an angry tone, " Col 
onel Hamilton," said he, "you have kept me waiting at the head 
of the stairs these ten minutes. I must tell you, sir, you treat 
me with disrespect." I replied, without petulancy, but with 
decision, " I am not conscious of it, sir ; but since you have 
thought it necessary to tell me so, we part." " Yery well, sir," 
said he, "if it be your choice," or something to this effect, and 
we separated. I sincerely believe my absence, which gave so 
much umbrage, did not last two minutes. 

212 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [^Ex. 24. 

In less than an hour after, Tilghman came to me in the Gen 
eral's name, assuring me of his great confidence in my abilities, 
integrity, usefulness, etc. ; and of his desire, in a candid conversa 
tion, to heal a difference which could not have happened but in 
a moment of passion. I requested Mr. Tilghman to tell him 
1st. That I had taken my resolution in a manner not to be re 
voked. 2d. That, as a conversation could serve no other pur 
pose than to produce explanations, mutually disagreeable, though 
I certainly would not refuse an interview if he desired it, yet I 
would be happy if he would permit me to decline it. 3d. That 
though determined to leave the family, the same principles which 
had kept me so long in it, would continue to direct my conduct 
towards him when out of it. 4th. That, however, I did not wish 
to distress him, or the public business, by quitting him before he 
could derive other assistance by the return of some of the gentle 
men who were absent. 5th. And that, in the mean time, it 
depended on him, to let our behavior to each other be the same 
as if nothing had happened. He consented to decline the con 
versation, and thanked me for my offer of continuing my aid in 
the manner I had mentioned. 

I have given you so particular a detail of our difference, from 
the desire I have to justify myself in your opinion. Perhaps you 
may think I was precipitate in rejecting the overture made by 
the General to an accommodation. I must assure you, my dear 
sir, it was not the effect of resentment : it was the deliberate re 
sult of maxims I had long formed for the government of my own 

always disliked the office of an aid-de-camp, as having in it 
a kind of personal dependence. I refused to serve in this capa 
city with two Major-Generals, at an early period of the war. 
Infected, however, with the enthusiasm of the times, an idea of 
the General's character overcame my scruples, and induced me 
to accept his invitation to enter into his family * * *. It has 
been often with great difficulty that I have prevailed upon my 
self not to renounce it; but while, from motives of public utility, 
I was doing violence to my feelings, I was always determined, if 
there should ever happen a breach between us, never to consent 


to an accommodation. I was persuaded, that when once that nice 
barrier, which marked the boundaries of what we owed to each 
other, should be thrown down, it might be propped again, but 
could never be restored. 

The General is a very honest man. His competitors have 
slender abilities, and less integrity. His popularity has often 
been essential to the safety of America, and is still of great im 
portance to it. These considerations have influenced my past 
conduct respecting him, and will influence my future. I think 
it is necessary he should be supported. 

His estimation in your mind, whatever may be its amount, I 
am persuaded has been formed on principles, which a circum 
stance like this cannot materially effect : but if I thought it could 
diminish your frienship for him, I should almost forego the mo 
tives that urge me to justify myself to you. I wish what I have 
said, to make no other impression than to satisfy you I have not 
been in the wrong. It is also said in confidence, as a public 
knowledge of the breach would, in many ways, have an ill effect. 
It will probably be the policy of both sides to conceal it, and 
cover the separation with some plausible pretext. I am impor 
tuned by such of my friends as are privy to the affair, to listen 
to a reconciliation ; but my resolution is unalterable. 

As I cannot think of quitting the army during the war, I 
have a project of re-entering into the artillery, by taking Lieuten 
ant-Colonel Forrest's place, who is desirous of retiring on half- 
pay. I have not, however, made up my mind upon this head, 
as I should be obliged to come in the youngest Lieutenant-Col 
onel instead of the eldest, which' I ought to have been by natural 
succession, had I remained in the corps ; and, at the same time, 
to resume studies relative to the profession, which, to avoid in 
feriority, must be laborious. 

If a handsome command in the campaign in the light infan 
try should offer itself, I shall balance between this and the artil 
lery. My situation in the latter would be more solid and per 
manent ; but as I hope the war will not last long enough to 
make it progressive, this consideration has the less force. A 
command for the campaign, would leave me the winter to pros- 

214 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [^T. 24. 

ecute studies relative to my future career in life * * *. I have 
written to you on this subject with all the freedom and confi 
dence to which you have a right, and with an assurance of the 
interest you take in all that concerns me. 

Yery sincerely and affectionately, 
I am, dear Sir, 

Your most obedient servant, 

General Schuyler. 



I am indebted to you, my dear Hamilton, for two letters ; the 
first from Albany, as masterly a piece of cynicism as ever was 
penned ; the other from Philadelphia, dated the second March : 
in both, you mention a design of retiring, which makes me ex 
ceedingly unhappy. I would not wish to have you, for a mo 
ment, withdrawn from the public service : at the same time, iny 
friendship for you, and knowledge of your value to the United 
States, make me most ardently desire, that you should fill only 
the first offices of the Kepublic. I was flattered with an account 
of your being elected a delegate from New- York, and am much 
mortified not to hear it confirmed by yourself. I must confess 
to you, that, at the present stage of the war, I should prefer your 
going into Congress, and from thence becoming a minister pleni 
potentiary for peace, to your remaining in the army, where 
the dull system of seniority, and the tableau, would prevent you 
from having the important commands to which you are entitled : 
but at any rate I will not have you renounce your rank in the 
army, unless you entered the career above mentioned. Your 
private affairs cannot require such immediate and close attention. 
You speak like a paterfamilias surrounded with a numerous pro 

I had, in fact, resumed the black project, as you were inform- 


ed, and urged the matter very strenuously, both to our privy 
council and legislative body ; but I was out- voted, having only 
reason on my side, and being opposed by a triple-headed mon 
ster, that shed the baneful influence of avarice, prejudice, and 
pusillanimity, in all our assemblies. It was some consolation to 
me, however, to find that philosophy and truth had made some 
little progress since my last effort, as I obtained twice as many 
suffrages as before. 


A LEBANON, le 26 Fevrier, 1781. 

Permettez moi, Monsieur, de vous adresser une lettre pour le 
Marquis de Lafayette, ne sachant ou il est. Je ne veux point 
importuner son Excellence dans un moment ou. tant d'affaires 
1'accablent. M. de Closen, Aid-de-Camp de M. le Comte de 
Eochambeau, lui porte des de*peches importantes ; M. le Marquis 
de Laval parait destine a commander un detachement de Grena 
diers, et chasseurs de 1'Armee Frangaise. Je vous supplie de 
vouloir bien rappeler au General, que de quelque maniere qu'il 
me juge util, je me trouverai heureux d'etre employe, et qu'il 
veuille bien temoigner a M. de Eochambeau que ce choix ne lui 
sera pas de"sagreable. 

Eecevez les excuses de mon Importunite, et les assurances de 
tous les sentiments d'estime et de consideration, avec les quels 
j'ai 1'honneur d'etre, Monsieur, votre tres humble et tres obeis- 
sant serviteur. 



NEW WINDSOR, March 26, 1781. 

I came here, my dear Hamilton, on Friday night, to bid 
adieu to the General, to you, and to my other friends, as a mili- 


tary man, and regret much that I have not had the happiness of 
seeing you. To-morrow I am obliged to depart ; and it is pos 
sible our separation may be for ever. But be this as it may, it 
can only be with respect to our persons ; for as to affection, mine 
for you will continue to my latest breath. This event will pro 
bably surprise you ; but from your knowledge of me, I rely you 
will conclude, at the instant, that no light considerations would 
have taken me from the army ; and I think I might safely have 
rested the matter here. However, as the friendship between us 
gives you a claim to something more, and as I am not indifferent 
about character, and shall be anxious to have the esteem of all 
who are good, and virtuously great, I shall detail to you, my 
friend, the more substantial reasons which have led to my pre 
sent conduct. I go from the army, then, because I have found, 
on examination, that my little fortune, earned by an honest and 
hard industry, was becoming embarrassed to attend to the edu 
cation of my children to provide, if possible, for the payment 
of a considerable sum of sterling money and interest, with which 
I stand charged, on account of the land I lately received from 
my honored father, for equality of partition between myself and 
two brothers to save a house which he had begun, and which, 
without instant attention, would be ruined, or at least greatly 
injured to provide, if possible, for the payment of goods, which 
far exceed any profits I can make from my estate and because 
the State of Maryland, in a flattering manner, have been pleased 
to appoint me to a place, very respectable in its nature, corres 
ponding with my former, and very interesting to my whole 
future life and support. They have appointed me to the Chair 
of their Supreme Court. These, my friend, are the motives to 
my present resolution. My own feelings are satisfied on the 
occasion, though I cannot but regret parting with the most 
valuable acquaintances I have ; and I hope they will justify me 
most fully to you, my Hamilton, especially when you consider, 
besides, the time I have been in service, and the compensation I 
have received. I wish, seriously, I had been sooner apprised of 
the good intentions of the State towards me, for reasons which 
will occur to you. They were but very lately known, and I was 


no sooner possessed of them, than I communicated the matter 
(that I should leave the army) to the General having found, on 
inquiry, it was only in my power to accept the offer of the Chair, 
or decline it for ever, as the filling it had become a measure of 
immediate necessity ; and there were other gentlemen, both of 
ability and merit, who had been mentioned for it, and who 
would probably have willingly accepted it. You are now to 
pardon me for this long relation, so very personal. You must 
do it, as what I owed to your friendship produced it, and as it is 
my hope and wish to stand fair in your opinion and esteem. 

I proceed to tell you that I live in Charles County, Mary 
land, where I should be peculiarly happy to see you : but as I 
can have but little hopes of being gratified in this, let me have 
the next pleasure to it, the favor of a letter now and then ; in 
which, write of matters personally interesting to yourself, as 
they will be so to me. Present me most respectfully to your 
lady, to General and Mrs. Schuyler. My best wishes attend 
you all. Adieu. 

Yours in haste, most affectionately, 


Colonel Hamilton. 


ELK, April 10, 1781. 

Where is, for the present, my dear Hamilton ? This question 
is not a mere affair of curiosity. It is not even wholly owing to 
the tender sentiments of my friendship. But motives both of a 
public and private nature conspire in making me wish that your 
woe be not accomplished. Perhaps you are at head quarters 
perhaps at Albany ; at all events, I'll tell you my history. Had 
the French fleet come in, Arnold was ours. The more certain it 
was, the greater my disappointment has been ; at last it has be 
come necessary for them to return to Khode Island. I think 

218 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [^E T . 24. 

they have exerted themselve for the common good, and this has 
been a comfort in our misfortune. 

Haying luckily arrived at Elk by water, which at first I had 
no right to expect, I have received the General's letters. If you 
are at head quarters, you will have seen my correspondence with 
the General ; if not, I tell you that I am ordered to the southern 
army, and the General thinks that the army under his imme 
diate command will remain inactive. After a march of forty 
days, we will arrive at a time when the heat of the season will 
put an end to operations. This detachment is so circumstanced 
as to make it very inconvenient for officers and men to proceed. 
Before we arrive, we shall perhaps be reduced to five or six 
hundred men. There will be no light infantry formed no 
attack against New-York none of those things which had flat 
tered my mind. If a corps is sent to the southward by land, it 
ought to have been the Jersey line, because if we weaken our 
selves, New- York will be out of the question. 

Monsieur Destouches will, I think, propose to the General to 
send to Philadelphia 1'Eveille and all the frigates ; these, with 
the frigates now at Philadelphia, would carry fifteen hundred 
men to whatever part of the continent the General would think 
proper. We could then go to Morristown, there to form a new 
corps of light infantry upon the principles at first intended, and 
embarking in the first days of May, we could be at Wilmington, 
Georgetown, or any where else, sooner than we can now be by 
land. I would have the battalions composed of six companies ; 
Colonels employed Webb, Sprout, Huntington, Olney, Hill, 
Barber, Gimat, Laurens ; Majors Willet, Fish, Gibbes, Inspector 
Smith, and another; Brigadier Generals Huntington and Sca- 
mell, and a good corps of artillerists under ******. My 
good friend, you would be more important at head quarters ; but 
if you don't stay there, you know what you have promised to 
me. Adieu. Write often and long letters. It is probable I 
will be in the southern wilderness until the end of the war, far 
from head quarters, from the French army, from my correspond 
ence with France ; but the whole good I could have operated, 


in this last instance, must have taken place by this time. My 
best respects and affectionate compliments wait on Mrs. Hamilton. 

Most friendly yours, 



April 15, 1781. SUSQ.UEHANNA. 


You are so sensible a fellow, that you certainly can explain 
to me what is the matter that New-York is given up ; that our 
letters to France go for nothing; that while the French are 
coming, I am going. This last matter gives great uneasiness to 
the Minister of France. All this is not comprehensible to me, 
who, having been long from head quarters, have lost the course 
of intelligence. 

Have you left the family, my dear sir ? I suppose so ; but 
from love to the General, for whom you know my affection, I 
ardently wish it was not the case ; many, many reasons conspire 
to this desire of mine. But if you do leave it, and if I go to 
exile, come and partake it with me. 


L. F. 


HEAD QUARTERS, 27th April, 1781. 


Between me and thee there is a gulf, or I should not have 
been thus long without seeing you. My faith is strong, but not 
strong enough to attempt walking upon the waters. You must 
not suppose from my dealing so much in Scripture phrases, that 
I am either drunk with religion or with wine, though had I been 

220 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [^T. 24. 

inclined to the latter, I might have found a jolly companion in 
my Lord, who came here yesterday. 

We have not a word of news. Whenever any arrives worth 
communicating, and good, you shall have it instantly if bad, I 
will not promise so much dispatch. 

I must go over and see you soon, for I am not yet weaned 
from you, nor do I desire to be. I will not present so cold 
words as compliments to Mrs. Hamilton. She has an equal 
share of the best wishes of 

Your most affectionate, 



DE PEYSTER'S POINT, April 27, 1781. 


I imagine your Excellency has been informed, that in conse 
quence of the resolution of Congress for granting commissions 
to Aid-de-Camps appointed under the former establishment, I 
have obtained one of Lieutenant Colonel in the army of the 
United States, bearing rank since the 1st of March, 1777. 

It is become necessary to me to apply to your Excellency, to 
know in what manner you foresee you will be able to employ me 
in the ensuing campaign. I am ready to enter into activity 
whenever you think proper, though I am not anxious to do it till 
the army takes the field, as before that period I perceive no 

Unconnected as I am with any regiment, I can have no other 
command than in a light corps ; and I flatter myself my preten 
sions to this are good. 

Your Excellency knows, I have been in actual service since 
the beginning of '76. I began in the line, and had I continued 
there, I ought, in justice, to have been more advanced in rank 
than I now am. I believe my conduct, in the different capacities 
in which I have acted, has appeared to the officers of the army, 


in general, such as to merit their confidence and esteem ; and I 
cannot suppose them to be so ungenerous as not to see me with 
pleasure put into a situation still to exercise the disposition I 
have always had of being useful, to the United States. I men 
tion these things, only to show that I do not apprehend the same 
difficulties can exist in my case (which is peculiar), that have 
opposed the appointments to commands of some other officers, 
not belonging to what is called the line. Though the light 
infantry is chiefly formed, yet being detached to the southward, 
I take it for granted there will be a vanguard by detachment 
formed for this army. 

I have the honor to be, 

Yery respectfully, 
Your Excellency's most ob't serv't, 

To General Washington. 


NEW WINDSOR, April 27, 1781. 


Your letter of this date has not a little embarrassed me. You 
must remember the ferment in the Pennsylvania line last cam 
paign, occasioned by the appointment of Major M'Pherson ; and 
you know the uneasiness which at this moment exists among 
the eastern officers, on account of the commands conferred upon 
Colonel Gimat and Major Galvan, although it was the result of 
absolute necessity. 

Should circumstances admit of the formation of another ad 
vanced corps, of which I see very little prospect, from present 
appearances, it can be but small, and must be composed almost 
entirely of eastern troops : and to add to the discontents of the 
officers of those lines, by the further appointment of an officer of 
your rank to the command of it, or in it, would, I am certain, 

222 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [JE-r. 24. 

involve me in a difficulty of a very disagreeable and delicate 
nature ; and might, perhaps, lead to consequences more serious 
than it is easy to imagine. While I adhere firmly to the right 
of making such appointments as you request, I am at the same 
time obliged to reflect, that it will not do to push that right too 
far ; more especially in a service like ours, and at a time so 
critical as the present. 

I am convinced that no officer can, with justice, dispute your 
merit and abilities. The opposition heretofore made, has not 
been for the want of those qualifications in the gentlemen who 
are, and have been, the objects of discontent. The officers of the 
line contend, without having reference to particular persons, that 
it is a hardship and reflection upon them, to introduce brevet 
officers into commands (of some permanency), in which there are 
more opportunities of distinguishing themselves than in the line 
of the army at large, and with the men they have had the trouble 
to discipline and to prepare for the field. 

My principal concern arises from an apprehension, that you 
will impute my refusal of your request to other motives than 
those I have expressed ; but I beg you to be assured, I am only 
influenced by the reasons which I have mentioned. 
I am, dear Sir, 

Your obedient, humble servant, 

Lieutenant-Colonel Hamilton. 



SARATOGA, April 29, 1781. 

The troops here are destitute of meat, and I fear will abandon 
the post ; the inhabitants in consternation, and preparing to fly, 
since they have heard of the arrival of some of the enemy's ship 
ping at Crown Point. Flour we can procure for the present, I 


having, on my own account, purchased one hundred barrels 
about twelve miles from this. If beef is sent up so as to enable 
the troops to remain, an engineer will be absolutely necessary to 

construct two or three small fortifications. 

* # * & * * * 

I am, dear Sir, 

Most affectionately and sincerely, 
Yours, etc., etc., 


Col. Hamilton. 


April 30, 1781. 


I was among the first who were convinced that an administra 
tion, by single men, was essential to the proper management of 
the affairs of this country. I am persuaded, now, it is the only 
resource we have, to extricate ourselves from the distresses 
which threaten the subversion of our cause. It is palpable, that 
the people have lost all confidence in our public councils ; and it 
is a fact, of which I dare say you are as well apprised as myself, 
that our friends in Europe are in the same disposition. I have 
been in a situation that has enabled me to obtain a better idea 
of this than most others ; and I venture to assert, that the Court 
of France will never give half the succors to this country, while 
Congress hold the reins of administration in their own hands, 
which they would grant, if these were intrusted to individuals of 
established reputation, and conspicuous for probity, abilities, and 

With respect to ourselves, there is so universal and rooted a 
diffidence of the government, that, if we could be assured the 
future measures of Congress would be dictated by the most per 
fect wisdom and public spirit, there would be still a necessity for 
a change in the forms of our administration, to give a new spring 
and current to the passions and hopes of the people. 


To me it appears evident, that an executive ministry, com 
posed of men with the qualifications I have described, would 
speedily restore the credit of government abroad and at home 
would induce our allies to greater exertions in our behalf would 
inspire confidence in moneyed men in Europe, as well as in Amer 
ica, to lend us those sums of which it may be demonstrated we 
stand in need, from the disproportion of our national wealth to 
the expenses of the war. 

I hope, sir, you will not consider it as a compliment, when I 
assure you that I heard, with the greatest satisfaction, of your 
nomination to the department of finance. In a letter of mine, 
last summer, to Mr. Duane, urging, among other things, the plan 
of an executive ministry, I mentioned you as the person who 
ought to fill that department. I know of no other in America, 
who unites so many advantages ; and of course every impedi 
ment to your acceptance, is to me a subject of chagrin. I flatter 
myself Congress will not preclude the public from your services 
by an obstinate refusal of reasonable conditions ; and, as one 
deeply interested in the event, I am happy in believing you will 
not easily be discouraged from undertaking an office, by which 
you may render America, and the world, no less a service than 
the establishment of American independence ! "Pis by introduc 
ing order into our finances by restoring public credit not by 
gaining battles, that we are finally to gain our object. 'Tis by 
putting ourselves in a condition to continue the war not by 
temporary, violent, and unnatural efforts to bring it to a decisive 
issue, that we shall, in reality, bring it to a speedy and successful 
one. In the frankness of truth I believe, sir, you are the man 
best capable of performing this great work. t 

In expectation that all difficulties will be removed, and that 
you will ultimately act on terms you approve, I take the liberty 
to submit to you some ideas, relative to the objects of your de 
partment. I pretend not to be an able financier : it is a part 
of administration which has been least in my way, and, of 
course, has least occupied my inquiries and reflections. Neither 
have I had leisure or materials to make accurate calculations. I 
have been obliged to depend on memory for important facts, for 


want of the authorities from which they are drawn. "With all 
these disadvantages, my plan must necessarily be crude and de 
fective ; but if it may be a basis for something more perfect, or 
if it contains any hints that may be of use to you, the trouble I 
have taken myself, or may give you, will not be misapplied. At 
any rate, the confidence I have in your judgment, assures me 
that you will receive, with pleasure, communications of this sort : 
if they contain any thing useful, they will promote your views 
and the public benefit ; if not, the only evil is the trouble of 
reading them ; and the best informed will frequently derive lights, 
even from reveries of projectors and quacks. There is scarcely 
any plan so bad as not to have something good in it. I trust 
mine to your candor without further apology ; you will at least 
do justice to my intention. 

The first step towards determining what ought to be done in 
the finances of this country, is to estimate, in the best manner 
we can, its capacity for revenue ; and the proportion between 
what it is able to afford, and what it stands in need of, for the 
expenses of its civil and military establishments. There occur 
to me two ways of doing this : 1st. By examining what pro 
portion the revenues of other countries have borne to their stock 
of wealth, and applying the rule to ourselves, with proper allow 
ance for the difference of circumstances. 2d. By comparing the 
result of this rule with the product of taxes in those States which 
have been the most in earnest in taxation. The reason for hav 
ing recourse to the first method is, that our own experience of 
our faculties in this respect, has not been sufficiently clear, or 
uniform, to admit of a certain conclusion : so that it will be more 
satisfactory to judge of them by a general principle, drawn by 
the example of other nations, compared with what we have ef 
fected ourselves, than to rely entirely upon the latter. 

The nations with whose wealth and revenues we are best ac 
quainted, are France, Great Britain, and the United Provinces. 
The real wealth of a nation, consisting in its labor and commodi 
ties, is to be estimated by the sign of that wealth its circulating 
cash. There may be times when, from particular accidents, the 
quantity of this may exceed or fall short of a just representative ; 

VOL. i. 15 

226 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [&T. 24. 

but it will turn again to a proper level, and, in the general course 
of things, maintain itself in that state. 

The circulation of France is almost wholly carried on in the 
precious metals ; and its current cash is estimated at from fifteen 
to sixteen hundred millions of livres. The net revenue of the 
kingdom, the sum which actually passes into the public coffers, 
is somewhere between three hundred and sixty and four hundred 
millions, about one fourth of the whole of its currency. An es 
timate of the wealth of this nation is liable to less fallacy than 
of that of the other two, as it makes little use of paper credit, 
which may be artificially increased, and even supported, a long 
time beyond its natural bounds. 

It is supposed that the gross sum extracted from the people 
by the collectors of the revenue, may be one-third more than that 
which goes into the treasury : but as their exactions are exces 
sive, and fall too heavy on particular orders, who are by that 
means reduced to indigence and misery, it is to be inferred, that, 
with moderate and reasonable expenses of collection, the present 
revenue is as great as the kingdom can well afford, from its 
present quantity of wealth. 

The circulating cash of Great Britain, in paper and specie, 
may be stated at about forty millions of pounds sterling. Mr. 
Hume supposes it to have been, at the time he wrote his Essay 
on the Balance of Trade, about thirty millions. Other writers 
have carried it to fifty, and it is probably in a medium that we 
shall find the truth. I do not include in this, the whole amount 
of Bank notes, Exchequer bills, India bonds, etc. etc. ; but only 
such part as is really employed in common circulation, and per 
forms the offices of current cash. In '75, by Dr. Price's state 
ment, the net revenue of Great Britain was ten millions that 
is, about one-fourth of its current cash, as in France. 

I have never met with any calculation that might be depend 
ed upon, of the current cash of the Seven Provinces. Almost 
the whole of their coin, as well as large quantities of plate and 
bullion, are shut up in the Bank of Amsterdam. The real wealth 
of the Bank is believed to be about fifteen millions sterling ; 
though, upon the strength of this fund, it has a credit almost un- 


limited, that answers all the purposes of cash in trade. As 
the Dutch, by their prudent maxims, have commonly the rate of 
exchange throughout Europe in their favor, and a considerable 
balance of trade, the use of paper credit (which, in part, also de 
pends upon the particular nature of their Banks) has not the 
same tendency with them, as in England, to banish the precious 
metals. We may therefore suppose these to be here, as in 
France, the true sign of the wealth of the nation. If to the fif 
teen millions in Bank, we add two millions of specie for the 
retail circulation and various transactions of business, we 
shall, I imagine, have nearly the true stock of wealth of the 
United Provinces. Their revenues amount to something more 
than four millions, and bear the some proportion to the stock 
from which they are drawn, as those of France and England, I 
confess, however, the data, in their case, are not sufficiently as 
certained to permit us to rely equally on the result. From 
these three examples we may venture to deduce this general rule, 
that the proportion of revenue which a nation is capable of 
affording, is about one-fourth of its circulating cash, so far as 
this is a just representative of its labor and commodities. 

This is only applicable to commercial countries, because, in 
those which are not so, the circulating cash is not an adequate 
sign. A great part of domestic commerce is carried on by bar 
ter ; and the State must receive a part of its dues in the labor 
and commodities themselves. The proportion, however, of the 
revenues of such a State to the aggreate of its labor and commo 
dities, ought to be the same as in the case of trading nations to 
their circulating cash ; with this difference, that the difficulty of 
collection and transportation, th^ waste and embezzlement in 
separable from this mode of revenue, would make the real ad 
vantage and ultimate gain to the State, infinitely less than when 
the public dues are paid in cash. 

When I say that one-fourth part of its stock of wealth is 
the revenue which a nation is capable of affording to the gov 
ernment, I must be understood in a qualified, not in an abso 
lute sense. It would be presumptuous to fix a precise boundary 
to the ingenuity of financiers, or to the patience of the people : 


but this we may safely say, that taxation is already carried, in 
the nations we have been speaking of, to an extent which does 
not admit of a very considerable increase without a proportionable 
increase of industry. This suffices for a standard to us ; and we 
may proceed to the application. 

From a comparison of the several estimates I have seen, of 
the quantity of current cash in this country previous to the war 
(specie and paper), I have settled my opinion of the amount at 
thirty millions of dollars, of which about eight might have been 
in specie : one-fourth of this, by analogy, was at that time the 
proper revenue of these States ; that is, seven and a half mil 
lions of dollars. 

As taxation, however, has, by slow gradations, been carried 
to an extreme in those countries which I have chosen as ex 
amples, that would not be, but in a course of time, practicable 
in this, where the people have been so little accustomed to taxes, 
it may be doubted whether it would be possible to raise the 
same proportion of revenue here. The object of the war, I 
imagine, would supply the want of habit, and reconcile the 
minds of the people to paying to the utmost of their abilities, 
provided the taxes were judiciously imposed, and the revenues 
wisely administered. Besides this, there is a circumstance in 
our favor, which puts it in the power of government to raise 
an equal proportion of revenue without burthening the lower 
classes of the people in the same degree as in Europe. This 
circumstance is the much greater equality of fortunes, by which 
means men, in this country, may be made to contribute to the 
public exigencies in a much juster proportion to their property ; 
and this is in fact the case. In France the rich have gained so 
entire an ascendant, that there is a constant sacrifice of the ease 
and happiness of the people to their avarice and luxury : their 
burthens are in no proportion to those of the middle order, and 
still less to those of the poor. In England and Holland the 
case, though not altogether, is in a great measure the same. 
There are also men of very large moneyed capitals, which were 
either formerly exempt from taxes by being in the public funds, 
or, having no visible representative for taxation to operate upon, 


enjoy virtually the same advantages. But if, at the commence 
ment of the war, the ability of these States for revenue may be 
rated at seven and a half millions of dollars, when the amount 
of its circulating cash was thirty millions, now that it is reduced 
more than one-half in real value, to what revenue are they to be 
supposed equal at this time? I should judge about one-fifth 
less, and not more. 

The diminution of our circulating cash is principally arti 
ficial. It is true, our foreign commerce has declined by the war, 
but our domestic commerce has increased. I know of no good 
reason to believe, that the quantity of labor and commodities 
have been materially diminished. Our exports have lessened, 
but our internal consumption has augmented. The men em 
ployed in the army, and in the departments connected with it, 
consume and waste three times as much as the same number of 
men in civil life. A number of husbandmen have been taken 
from their ploughs into military service ; but the progress of our 
natural population has, in part, supplied their place; and the 
demands of the war have increased individual industry. The 
great influx of money, at first operated upon the avarice of the 
people, and, for a long time, served also as a stimulus to industry, 
which taxation has since kept up on the principle of necessity. 
Notwithstanding the demands and competitions of two armies for 
supplies, we see that corn, which is the staple of these middle 
States, is cheaper than for some years before the war ; a strong 
argument of plenty. 

We may infer from all this, that we stand in need now of 
nearly the same quantity of medium for our circulation as before 
the war. The depreciation of the money below the standard, is 
to be attributed to a want of confidence rather than to a decay 
of resources. We find the people, in some of the States, dis 
tressed to pay their taxes, for want of money, with ample means 
otherwise ; which is a proof, that our current cash is not a 
competent representative of the labor and commodities of the 
country. Another proof of the same nature is, that particular 
States who have found no small difficulty in collecting their 
pecuniary taxes, have been successful in raising contributions to 
a large amount in kind. 

230 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [JEto. 24. 

This country never having been a country of manufactures, 
the productions of the soil ever were,, as they still are, the prin 
cipal source of revenue. The inhabitants have abridged their 
wants of foreign articles, from the scarcity of them, and have, in 
part, supplied their place by home manufactures ; which, being 
chiefly conducted by the women, take nothing from the labor 
appropriated to agriculture, while it enables the farmer to spare 
a larger portion of his income to the public. 

Whatever diminution our means of revenue may have suf 
fered, must be accounted for on the decay of foreign trade, and 
on the loss of territory. The imposts on trade in Great Britain 
amounted to about a fourth of its total revenue. The propor 
tion must be less in America. But suppose it to be the same ; 
suppose our external commerce to be reduced one-half, which I 
believe is an ample allowance, then, one-eighth should be de 
ducted from our revenue on this account ; which would bring it 
down to six millions, five hundred and sixty -two thousand, five 
hundred dollars. Allow for the loss of Georgia and South Caro 
lina one-eighth of this sum : this would reduce the income of 
the remaining States to five millions, seven hundred and forty- 
two thousand, one hundred and eighty-eight, and four-eighths, 
dollars. But as the allowance, in both cases, is large, the dimi 
nution I have already supposed, of one-fifth of the whole, appears 
to be nearest the truth ; which leaves these States with a net 
revenue of six millions of dollars. 

We will now examine how far this rule agrees with experi 
ence, and with what has already been effected in these States. 
Massachusetts may serve as a criterion. This is one of the 
States where taxation has been carried furthest. Taxes were so 
heavy last year, that I am informed there were real marks of 
distress among some classes of the people. The Legislature, in 
their late Address, tell us that they amounted to six hundred 
thousand pounds lawful : and they appear to have thought the 
pressure of them too great, by reducing them at a time when 
they are obliged to have recourse to a large loan, to answer the 
exigencies of the current year. 

The taxes they specify which seem to belong to those of the 


present year, with the addition of the bounties for raising men, 
and the beef supply, may be estimated at near five hundred 
thousand pounds. 

This State is in a different situation from any other. Its 
position has made it impossible for the enemy to intercept its 
trade ; while that of all the others has been greatly injured or 
totally obstructed. It has become, in consequence, the mart of 
the States northward of Pennsylvania; and its commerce has 
enlarged itself much beyond its former limits. A great part of 
the money expended for the support of the war, has been dis 
bursed there. Congress, in their requisitions for money, have 
rated the quota of Massachusetts at - of the whole ; but I 

believe its ability, at this time, is in the proportion of one-fifth. 
I found this estimation on an impartial comparison of the cir 
cumstances of the several States. 

Admitting the proportion to be just, and taking the taxes of 
the present year as a standard, the gross amount of our collective 
revenues would be two millions, five hundred thousand pounds 
lawful ; or eight millions, three hundred and thirty-three thou 
sand, three hundred and thirty-three, and one-third, dollars. 
The expense of collection, in England, is about the ninth of the 
gross amount ; arid considering that our revenue is to be raised 
in eleven different governments, each having a complete set of 
collectors of its own, the expense of collection, with us, will in 
all probability be not much less than it is in England. Suppos 
ing it to be the same, and that the taxes were to prove as pro 
ductive as their nominal amount, our net revenue would then 
be seven millions, four hundred and seven thousand, four hun 
dred and eight, and one-half, dollars; which considerably ex 
ceeds what it ought to be by my first calculation. 

But there are considerations which may induce us to make 
large deductions from this sum. When the Legislature tells us, 
that the taxes of last year amounted to six hundred thousand 
pounds, it also tells us that there was a part of them still to be 
levied; which, among other things, had occasioned them to 
postpone the next tax to a future session. Whatever is due on 
the last year, may be considered, in effect, as an anticipation on 

232 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [JEx. 24. 

the taxes of the present; for it takes off so much from the 
ability of the people to pay them. The chances are, that the 
additional impositions projected for the current year will not be 
raised in their full extent. Taxes are seldom or never so pro 
ductive as their estimated value ; and in a case like this, must 
be expected to be more than commonly deficient. 

It is to be observed, also, that the last year was a year of 
peculiar exertion. There was a general expectation of some 
attempt, in conjunction with our allies, decisive of the war. This 
made the people strain their efforts beyond their natural abili 
ties: and yet they did not comply with the demands of the 

The money for the bounties this year, which I have calcu 
lated at sixty thousand pounds,* may, in like manner, be 
regarded as an extraordinary and special contribution, which the 
people may be willing to submit to, over and above what they 
could probably afford to pay, to get rid of the insupportable 
inconvenience of temporary enlistments. 

Eeasonable deductions on these accounts being made, will 
bring the two calculations to a pretty exact agreement, and 
make them confirm each other. But were not this the case, I 
should be inclined, in preference, to trust the first, as being 
founded on a basis better known and better ascertained by ex 
perience. I believe, however, we may safely conclude, from 
both, that between six and seven millions of dollars is the proper 
revenue of these States, after the dismemberment of South Caro 
lina and Georgia. 

Having formed an estimate of our ability for revenue, the 
next thing to be ascertained is, the annual expense of our civil 
and military establishments. "With tolerable economy, I should 
suppose two millions and a half of dollars would amply suffice 
for the first, including the particular administration of each State. 
For the second, judiciously managed, eight millions of dollars 
would be adequate, calculating for an army of twenty thousand 

* It is to be feared, too, that this sum is rated too high. Hitherto we have 
not four hundred men from that State, nor very promising accounts of those 
which may be expected. 

jEi. 24.] CORRESPONDENCE. 233 

men, which are as many as we shall stand in need of, or be able* 
to raise. Eleven millions of dollars will be then the amount of 
the annnal expenses of these States. I speak on a supposition 
that a system were embraced, well adapted to rescuing our affairs 
from the chaos in which they are now involved ; and which, 
while it continues, must baffle all calculation. 

The difference between our revenues and expenses, on the 
preceding scale, will be from four to four and a half millions of 
dollars ; which deficiency must of course be supplied by credit, 
foreign or domestic, or both. 

With regard to credit abroad, I think we have little chance 
of obtaining a sufficiency, nearly to answer our purpose. France, 
by all the reforms she can make in her interior economy, by all 
the means she can procure in loans and lotteries, in addition to 
her revenue, can do little more than satisfy her own wants. The 
death of the Empress Queen, and the notorious hostility of the 

* The proportion of the European armies, in general, to the national population, 
is calculated at one to a hundred. By this rule, supposing our population to be two 
and a half millions, our armies ought to consist of twenty-five thousand men; but 
the proportion will naturally be less in this country. Our population is more dif 
fused : there is a greater facility of procuring subsistence, fewer poor (and conse 
quently fewer of that class of men whose habits, tempers, and circumstances lead 
them to embrace the military life) than ift any other country in the world. Hence 
it is, I say, twenty thousand men are as many as we shall be able to raise. Experi 
ence justifies this opinion. In the first paroxysms of enthusiasm our armies were 
larger. I believe, at particular periods, we have had more than thirty thousand 
men in the field : but our force has every year diminished, and has been for two 
years past below the standard I have assigned. Immense efforts have been made 
to procure men, but they have not been able to produce more. This shows that 
our military system is still susceptible of great reforms in favor of economy ; but 
we dare not make them, because we cannot pay the army. I also said, twenty 
thousand men would be as many as we should stand in need of. The enemy have 
now less than this number within the States; and cannot, in the future pro 
gress of the war, have more. 

An equal force, with the occasional aid of the militia, will confine them within 
one or two capital points ; and this will be their defeat. But we have a further 
resource in the troops of our allies. We must not dream of decisive enterprises, 
unless our allies will assist us with twelve or fifteen thousand land troops, and an 
undisputed maritime superiority. Then, with the aid of the militia, drawn out for 
a few months, we may undertake and succeed. Our true policy, in the meantime, 
is, to endeavor to form a solid compact force, proportioned to our necessities. 

234 HAMILTON'S WORKS. |>ET. 24. 

Emperor, will add to the number of these. She will, in all pro 
bability, be obliged to pay greater attention to her army, 
which has been neglected, for several years past, to apply all 
the resources of the kingdom to the improvement of the navy. 
Though Eussia and Prussia, by the last advices, seemed disposed 
to control the ill-humor of the Emperor, France will hardly 
think it prudent to leave herself in a defenceless condition, rely 
ing on the precarious friendship and momentary interests of 
other powers. The increase of her army will necessarily increase 
her expenses, as she cannot, in the present state of things, re 
trench any thing from the navy ; and of course she will have 
less money to spare to allies. It has been observed, that France 
has hitherto imposed none of the additional taxes usual in time 
of war ; by doing which, it is imagined she would have it in her 
power, not only to supply her own wants better, but to contri 
bute largely to ours. To this it has been answered, with great 
appearance of reason, that the credit of the financier very much 
depends on his having such a resource in reserve, which, being 
considered as a mean he may command, when necessary, to fulfil 
his engagements, disposes moneyed men to lend to him with the 
greater freedom and confidence. The breaking in upon that 
resource, therefore (it is said), would injure credit, and obstruct 
loans in a degree that could not be compensated by the direct 
value of the revenue it would furnish. 

Upon the whole, however, from a variety of siftings and 
inquiries, I should be mistaken if France did not lend this 
country eight or ten millions of livres annually, during the war ; 
provided its finances were once put upon a reasonable footing : 
but this is not above a third of our wants. 

I find no reason to flatter ourselves that we have much 
to expect either from the ability or inclination of Spain. Her 
government is far from being so rich as is vulgarly imagined. 
The mines of South America, of late years, have been less liberal 
of their profits; and, for fear of accidents, but a small part of 
their product, since the war, has been imported into Europe. 
The extreme indolence of the Spaniards, and their neglect of 
agriculture, manufactures, and trade, make them tributary to 


their more industrious neighbors, who drain them of their pre 
cious metals as fast as they arrive. 

But if they were heartily disposed to do it, they might still 
afford us some assistance. Their conduct, hitherto, has manifested 
no such disposition : it has been as cold and reserved as it could 
well be. The bills drawn upon them have not been rejected, 
but they have not been paid. Their permitting the residence of 
a British emissary among them, and the countenance they give 
him, unprecedented in a state of war, afford just room for a 
distrust of their intentions, though it may be nothing more than 
a stroke of policy, to play him off against our negotiations, and 
make us bid higher for their friendship. Their method of pro 
secuting the war is passive, to a degree that can scarcely be re 
solved even into Spanish supineness ; but seems to have a more 
corrupt original. A bigoted prince, governed by a greedy con 
fessor, is a character on which little dependence can be placed. 

'Tis not on Spain, then, that we are to build our hopes of any 
considerable succors in money. 

The Dutch government has of long standing mortgaged all its 
revenues. Taxation has been carried to a length that admits 
of little extension. 'Tis from its credit with its own citizens, 
that it must derive the means of making war. It has every 
thing to do. Its fleet is to be in a manner created anew ; and 
its land forces to be recruited, having been, for some time past, 
suffered to decline very much. It will, therefore, stand in need 
of all its credit for its own uses. Of course we have nothing to 
expect from the government of that country. 

The individuals will not have confidence enough in our pub 
lic councils, to embark any considerable part of their fortunes 
with us, on the ordinary principles of a loan. Stronger induce 
ments, the prospect of commercial advantages, securities differ 
ent from the mere faith of the United States, must be held out, 
to tempt them to engage far with us. The plan I am going to 
propose, endeavors to conciliate these objects. 

As to internal loans, on which, after all, we must chiefly 
depend, there are two things that operate against them, to any 
large amount ; the want of a sufficient number of men, with suf- 


ficient moneyed capitals to lend the sums required, and the 
want of confidence in those who are able to lend, to make them 
willing to part with their money. It may be added, that they 
can employ it to greater advantage in traffic, than by merely 
lending it on interest. 

To surmount these obstacles, and give individuals ability and 
inclination to lend, in any proportion to the wants of government, 
a plan must be devised, which, by incorporating their means to 
gether, and uniting them with those of the public, will, on the 
foundation of that incorporation and union, erect a mass of credit 
that will supply the defect of moneyed capital, and answer all 
the purposes of cash ; a plan which will offer adventurers imme 
diate advantages, analogous to those they receive by employing 
their money in trade, and, eventually, greater advantages; a 
plan which will give them the greatest security the nature of the case 
will admit for what they lend ; and which will not only advance 
their own interest, and secure the independence of their country, 
but, in its progress, have the most beneficial influence upon its 
future commerce, and be a source of national strength and wealth. 

I mean the institution of a NATIONAL BANK. This I 
regard, in some shape or other, as an expedient essential to our 
safety and success ; unless, by a happy turn of European affairs, 
the war should speedily terminate in a manner upon which it 
would be unwise to reckon. There is no other that can give to 
government that extensive and systematic credit, which the de 
fect of our revenues makes indispensably necessary to its ope 

The longer it is delayed, the more difficult it becomes. Our 
affairs grow every day more relaxed and more involved ; public 
credit hastens to a more irretrievable catastrophe ; the means for 
executing the plan are exhausted in partial and temporary efforts. 
The loan now making in Massachusetts would have gone a great 
way in establishing the funds on which the Bank must stand. 

I am aware of all the objections that have been made to public 
Banks ; and that they are not without enlightened and respecta 
ble opponents. But all that has been said against them, only 
tends to prove that, like all other good things, they are subject 


to abuse, and, when abused, become pernicious. The precious 
metals, by similar arguments, may be proven to be injurious. It 
is certain that the mines of South America have had great influ 
ence in banishing industry from Spain, and sinking it in real 
wealth and importance. Great power, commerce, and riches, 
or, in other words, great national prosperity, may, in like manner, 
be denominated evils ; for they lead to insolence, an inordinate 
ambition, a vicious luxury, licentiousness of morals, and all those 
vices which corrupt government, enslave the people, and precip 
itate the ruin of a nation. But no wise statesman will reject the 
good, from an apprehension of the ill. The truth is, in human 
affairs there is no good, pure and unmixed : every advantage 
has two sides : and wisdom consists in availing ourselves of the 
good, and guarding as much as possible against the bad. 

The tendency of a National Bank is to increase public and 
private credit. The former gives power to the State, for the pro 
tection of its rights and interests : and the latter facilitates and 
extends the operations of commerce among individuals. Indus 
try is increased, commodities are multiplied, agriculture and 
manufactures flourish : and herein consists the true wealth and 
prosperity of a State. 

Most commercial nations have found it necessary to institute 
Banks : and they have proved to be the happiest engines that 
ever were invented for advancing trade. Venice, Genoa, Ham 
burgh, Holland, and England, are examples of their utility. 
They owe their riches, commerce, and the figure they have made 
at different periods, in a great degree to this source. Great Bri 
tain is indebted for the immense efforts she has been able to make, 
in so many illustrious and successful wars, essentially to that 
vast fabric of credit raised on this foundation. 'Tis by this alone 
she now menaces our independence. 

She has, indeed, abused the advantage, and now stands on a 
precipice. Her example should both persuade and warn us. 'Tis 
in republics where Banks are most easily established and sup 
ported, and where they are least liable to abuse. Our situation 
will not expose us to frequent wars ; and the public will have no 
temptation to overstrain its credit. 

238 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [^Ei. 24. 

In my opinion, we ought not to hesitate, because we have no 
other resource. The long and expensive wars of King William, 
had drained England of its specie : its commerce began to droop 
for want of a proper medium : its taxes were unproductive, and 
its revenues declined. The administration wisely had recourse 
to the institution of a Bank ; and it relieved the national diffi 
culties. We are in the same, and still greater, want of a suffi 
cient medium. We have little specie : the paper we have is of 
small value, and rapidly descending to less : we are immersed in 
a war for our existence as a nation, for our liberty and happiness 
as a people : we have no revenues nor no credit. A Bank, if 
practicable, is the only thing that can give us either the one 
or the other. 

Besides these great and cardinal motives to such an institu 
tion, and the advantages we should enjoy from it, in common 
with other nations, our situation, relatively to Europe and to the 
West Indies, would give us some peculiar advantages. 

Nothing is more common than for men to pass from the abuse of 
a good thing, to the disuse of it. Some persons, disgusted by 
the depreciation of the money, are chimerical enough to imagine 
it would be beneficial to abolish all paper credit, annihilate the 
whole of what is now in circulation, and depend altogether upon 
our specie, both for commerce and finance. The scheme is alto 
gether visionary, and in the attempt would be fatal. We have 
not a competent stock of specie in this country, either to answer 
the purposes of circulation in trade, or to serve as a basis for 
revenue. The whole amount of what we have, I am persuaded, 
does not exceed six millions of dollars, one-fifth of the circulating 
medium before the war. To suppose this would be sufficient for 
the operations of commerce, would be to suppose that our domes 
tic and foreign commerce were both reduced four-fifths : a suppo 
sition that carries absurdity in the face of it. It follows that if 
our paper money were destroyed, a great part of the transactions 
of traffic must be carried on by barter ; a mode inconvenient, 
partial, confined, destructive both of commerce and industry. 
With the addition of the paper we now have, this evil exists in 
too great a degree. 


With respect to revenue, could the whole of our specie be 
drawn into the public treasury annually, we have seen that it 
would be little more than one half of our annual expense. But 
this would be impracticable ; it has never been effected in any 
country. Where the -numerary of a country is a sufficient rep 
resentative, there is only a certain proportion of it that can be 
drawn out of daily circulation ; because, without the necessary 
quantity of cash, a stagnation of business would ensue. How 
small, then, would be the proportion of the six millions (in it 
self so unequal a representative) which the public would be able 
to extract in revenue. It must either have little or no revenue, 
or it must receive its dues in kind ; on the inefficacy and incon 
veniences of which mode, I have already remarked. The neces 
sity for it, in part, unhappily now has place, for the cause assign 
ed, a deficiency of current cash : but were we to establish it as 
our principal dependence, it would be impossible to contrive a 
mode less productive to the public, more contrary to the habits 
and inclinations of the people, or more baneful to industry. 

But waiving the objections on this head, there would still re 
main a balance of four millions of dollars more than these States 
can furnish in revenue, which must be provided for the yearly 
expense of the war. How is this to be procured without a paper 
credit, to supply the deficiency of specie, and enable the money 
ed men to lend? This question, I apprehend, will be of no easy 

In the present system of things, the health of a State, 
particularly a commercial one, depends on a due quantity and 
regular circulation of cash, as much as the health of an animal 
body depends upon the due quantity and regular circulation of 
the blood. There are indisputable indications that we have not 
a sufficient medium ; and what we have is in continual fluctu 
ation. The only cure to our public disorders, is to fix the value 
of the currency we now have, and increase it to a proper 
standard, in a species that will have the requisite stability. 

The error of those who would explode paper money alto 
gether, originates in not making proper distinctions. Our paper 
was, in its nature, liable to depreciation, because it had no funds 


for its support, and was not upheld by private credit. The emis 
sions under the resolution of March, '80, have partly the former 
advantage, but are destitute of the latter, which is equally essen 
tial. No paper credit can be substantial, or durable, which has 
not funds, and which does not unite, immediately, the interest 
and influence of the moneyed men, in its establishment and pre 
servation. A credit begun on this basis, will, in process of time, 
greatly exceed its funds : but this requires time, and a well set 
tled opinion in its favor. ' Tis in a National Bank, alone, that 
we can find the ingredients to constitute a wholesome, solid, and 
beneficial paper credit. 

I am aware that, in the present temper of men's minds, it 
will be no easy task to inspire a relish for a project of this kind : 
but much will depend on the address and personal credit of the 
proposer. In your hands I should not despair : and I should 
have the greater hopes for what I am informed appeared to be 
the disposition, at the promulgation of the plan for a loan in 
Massachusetts. The men of property in America, are enlight 
ened about their own interest, and would easily be brought to 
see the advantages of a good plan. They ought not to be dis 
couraged at what has happened heretofore, when they behold 
the administration of our finances put into a better channel. The 
violations of public engagements, hitherto, have proceeded more 
from a necessity produced by ignorance and mismanagement, 
than from levity or a disregard to the obligations of good faith. 

Should the success, in the first instance, not be as complete 
as the extent of the plan requires, this should not hinder its 
being undertaken. It is of the nature of a Bank, wisely insti 
tuted, and wisely administered, to extend itself, and, from small 
beginnings, grow to a magnitude that could not have been fore 

The plan I propose, requires a stock of three millions of 
pounds, lawful money ; but if one-half the sum could be obtain 
ed, I should entertain no doubt of its full success. It now re 
mains to submit my plan, which I rather offer as an outline, 
than as a finished plan. It contains, however, the general prin 
ciples. To each article, in an opposite column, I shall affix an 
explanatory remark. 

. 24.] 



ART. 1. A Bank to be erected 
with a stock of three millions of 
pounds, lawful money, at the rate 
of six shillings to a dollar, divided 
into thirty thousand shares. This 
stock to be exempted from all 
public taxes and impositions what 

REMARK 1. By the second Ar 
ticle, a part of the stock is to be 
in landed security : by this, the 
whole is to be exempted from taxes. 
Here will be a considerable saving 
to the proprietor, which is to be 
estimated among the clear profits 
of the Bank. This will indeed be 
a small reduction of the public 
revenue ; but the loss will be of 
little consequence, compared with 
the advantages to be derived from 
the Bank. 

REMARK 2. By admitting land 
ed security as a part of the Bank 
stock, while we establish solid 
funds for the money emitted, we 
at the same time supply the defect 
of specie, and we give a strong in 
ducement to moneyed men to ad 
vance their money; because, not 
only the money actually deposited 
is to be employed for their benefit, 
but, on the credit of their landed 
security, by the seventh Article, 
may be raised an equal amount in 
cash, to be also employed for their 
benefit : by which artifice they 
have the use of their land (ex 
empted, too, from taxes), and the 
use of the value of it in a repre 
sentative cash. In this consists a 
capital advantage of the Bank to 
the proprietors. A, for instance, 
9 advances six hundred pounds in 

specie, and as much more in landed 
security. By the establishment he 
may draw bank notes for the whole 

* The possibility of making up so large a proportion of specie will depend on 
foreign assistance. It could hardly be hoped to effect it within ourselves, if, as I 
suppose, there are not more than six millions of dollars in these States. It is true, 
plate is admitted ; but it is uncertain how far this may prove a resource. It were 
to be wished the proportion of specie might be as large as possible : but, perhaps, 
for fear of a failure, it may be advisable to alter the above proportions, so as to 
have, upon the whole, about one-third in specie, and two-thirds in European funds 
and landed security. 
VOL. I. 16 

ART. II. A subscription to be 
opened for the amount of the stock. 
A subscriber of from one share to 
five, to advance the whole in specie. 
A subscriber of six shares to fif 
teen, to advance one-half in specie, 
the other half in good landed se 
curity. A subscriber of sixteen 
shares, and upwards, to advance 
two-sixths in specie, one-sixth in 
bills or securities on good Euro 
pean 'funds, and three-sixths in 
good landed security. In either 
case of specie, plate or bullion, at 
a given value, proportioned to its 
quality, may be substituted ; and 
in either case of landed security, 
specie, good bills, or securities on 
European funds, to be admissible 
in their stead.* 



[JET. 24. 

ART. III. The Bank to be 
erected into a legal corporation ; 
to have all the powers and immu 
nities requisite to its security, to 
the recovery of its debts, and to 
the disposal of its property. 

ART. IY. The stock of the 
Bank not to be liable to any at 
tachment or seizure whatsoever ; 
but, on refusal of payment, the 
holders of bank notes, or bonds, 
may enter suit against any mem 
ber, or members, of the corpora 
tion ; and, as far as their respective 
shares in the Bank extend, recover 
the debt, with cost and damages, 
out of their private property. 

ART. V. The United States, or 
any particular States, or foreign 
ers, may become subscribers to the 
Bank, and participate its profits, 
for any sums not exceeding the 
whole half the stock. 

of his stock, that is, for twelve hun 
dred pounds, when he only ad 
vances half the sum in money. 
These bank notes operating as 
cash, his land (continuing, as we 
observed above, in his own use, 
with the privilege besides of an 
exemption from taxes) is converted 
into cash ; which he may employ 
in loans, in profitable contracts, in 
beneficial purchases, in discount 
ing bills of exchange, and in the 
other methods permitted in the 
subsequent Articles. Besides all 
this, when the bank notes have 
once acquired a fixed credit, he is 
not obliged to keep his six hun 
dred pounds, deposited in specie, 
idle : he may lend, or otherwise im 
prove, a part of that also. These 
advantages will not exist in their 
full extent at first, but they will 
soon succeed each other. 

REMARK 3. This Article needs 
no illustration. 

REMARK 4. The first part of 
this regulation is necessary to en 
gage foreigners to trust their pro 
perty in the Bank ; the latter part 
to give an .idea of security to the 
holders of bank notes. 

REMARK 5. This will link the 
interests of the public more inti 
mately with the Bank, and be an 
easy method of acquiring revenue. 
It will also facilitate the making 
up its stock by the loans which 

. 24.] 



ART. VI. The United States, 
collectively and particularly, to be 
come responsible for all the trans 
actions of the Bank, conjointly with 
the private proprietors. 

ART. VII. The Bank to issue 
notes payable at sight, in pounds, 
shillings, and pence, lawful : all of 
twenty shillings, and under, to bear 
no interest : all above, to bear an 
interest not exceeding four per 
cent. The notes to be of so many 
denominations as may be judged 
convenient for circulation, and of 
two kinds ; one payable only in 
America, the other payable either in 
America or in any part of Europe 

Congress may obtain abroad ; with 
out which it would be more diffi 
cult to raise so large a sum. It is 
essential the stock should be large, 
because, in proportion to it, will 
be the credit of the Bank, and of 
course its ability to lend and en 
large its paper emissions. The 
admission of foreigners will also 
assist the completing the stock ; 
and it is probable many may be 
induced to enter into the plan, 
especially after it has made some 
progress among ourselves, and ob 
tained a degree of consistency. 

The sum is limited to one half 
the stock, because it is of primary 
importance the moneyed men 
among ourselves should be deeply 
interested in the plan. 

REMARK 6. This mode of pledg 
ing the public faith, makes it as 
difficult to be infringed as could 
possibly be devised. In our situ 
ation it is expedient to offer every 
appearance of security. Foreign 
ers are more firmly persuaded of 
the establishment of our indepen 
dence than of the continuance of 
our union ; and will therefore have 
more confidence in the States bound 
separately than collectively. Indi 
viduals among ourselves will be in 
fluenced by similar considerations. 

REMARK 7. The reason of hav 
ing them payable at sight, is to in 
spire the greater confidence and 
give them a readier currency : nor 
do I apprehend there would be 
any danger from it. In the be 
ginning some may be carried to 
the Bank for payment, but find 
ing they are punctually discharged, 
the applications will cease. The 
notes are payable in pounds, shil 
lings, and pence, rather than in 



[JET. 24. 

where the Bank may have funds. 
The aggregate of these notes never 
to exceed the Bank stock. 

dollars, to produce an illusion in 
the minds of the people favorable 
to the new paper ; or rather to 
prevent their transferring to that 
their prejudices against the old. 
Paper credit depends much on 
opinion, and opinion is often guid 
ed by outside appearances. A cir 
cumstance trivial as this may seem, 
might have no small influence on 
the popular imagination. And if 
20s., and under, are without inter 
est, because such small sums will 
be diffused in the lesser transac 
tions of daily circulation, there will 
be less probability of their being 
carried to the Bank for payment. 

The interest on the larger notes 
is calculated to give them a pre 
ference to specie, and prevent a 
run upon the Bank. The notes, 
however, must be introduced by 
degrees, so as not to inundate the 
public at once. Those bearing no 
interest ought not to be multiplied 
too much at first 5 but as the in 
terest is an abridgment of the 
profits of the Bank, after the notes 
have gained an unequivocal credit, 
it will be advantageous to issue a 
large proportion of the smaller 
ones. At first, the interest had 
best be at four per cent., to operate 
the more effectually as a motive : 
afterwards, on the new notes, it 
may be gradually diminished : but 
it will always be expedient to let 
them bear an interest not less than 
two per cent. 

The making some of the notes 
payable in Europe as well as in 
America, is necessary to enable the 
Bank to avail itself of its funds 
there : it will also serve to raise 
the demand for Bank notes, by 
rendering them useful in foreign 
commerce, the promoting which is 
a further inducement. 

. 24.] 



The limiting the aggregate of 
the notes to the amount of the 
stock, is necessary to obviate a sus 
picion of their being multiplied 
beyond the means of redemption. 

ART. VIII. The Bank to lend REMARK 8. In the beginning it 
money to the public, or to indivi- will be for the advantage of the 
duals, at an interest not exceeding Bank to require high interest, be- 
eight per cent. cause money is in great demand, 

and the Bank itself will want the 
principal part of its cash for the 
loans stipulated in Article XIII, 
and for peforming the contracts 
authorized by Article XII : so that 
the profits will not, for some time, 
turn materially on the principle of 
loans, except that to the public. 
But when the contracts cease, the 
Bank will find its advantage in 
lending, at a moderate interest, to 
secure a preference from borrowers, 
which will, at the same time, pro 
mote commerce ; and by a kind of 
mutual reaction, the Bank will 

assist commerce, and 
will assist the Bank. 


ART. IX. The Bank to have 
liberty of borrowing, on the best 
terms it can, to the amount of one 
half of its stock. 

ART. X. The Bank to have 
liberty of purchasing estates by 
principal, or by annuities ; 'the 
power of coming to the amount 
of half its stock, the quantity of 
alloy, etc., being determined by 
Congress ; also the power of dis 
counting bills of exchange. 

REMARK 9. This is a precau 
tion against a sudden run. It may 
borrow in proportion to what it 
pays. It has another advantage : 
at particular conjunctures the Bank 
may borrow at a low interest, and 
lend, at others, at a higher. 

REMARK 10. This privilege of 
purchasing estates will be a very 
valuable one. By watching favor 
able opportunities, with so large a 
capital, vast property may be ac 
quired in this way. There will be 
a fine opening at the conclusion of 
the war. Many persons disaffect 
ed to our independence, who have 
rendered themselves odious with 
out becoming obnoxious to the 
laws, will be disposed to sell their 



estates here, either for their whole 
value, or for annuities in Europe. 
The power of coining* is necessary, 
as plate, or bullion, is admitted in 
stead of specie ; and it may be, on 
particular occasions, expedient to 
coin them ; this will be a small 
resource to the Bank. The power 
of discounting bills of exchange 
will be a considerable one. Its 
advantages will consist in purchas 
ing, or taking up for the honor of 
the drawer, when the security is 
good, bills of exchange at so much 
per cent, discount. A large profit 
might be now made in this way on 
the bills drawn on France ; and 
hereafter, in times of peace, when 
commerce comes to flourish, this 
practice will promote the transac 
tions of the several States with 
each other, and with Europe, and 
will be very profitable to the Bank. 

REMARK 11. This is in imita 
tion of the Bank of Amsterdam. 
If individuals once get into the 
practice of depositing their money 
in Bank, it will give credit to the 
Bank, and assist trade. In time, 
a premium may be required at re 
payment as in Holland. A small 
profit may be immediately gained 
on plate, as the States begin to 
tax this article 5 and many persons 
will dispense at this time with the 
use of their plate, if they can de 
posit it in a place of safety, and 
pay less for keeping it than the 
tax. Whatever serves to increase 
the apparent wealth of the Bank, 
w.ill enhance its credit ! It may 
even be useful to let the owners of 
the plate have credit in Bank for 
the value of the plate, estimated on 

* It may, perhaps, not be impossible to make some profitable speculations on 
the bullion which the Spaniards are afraid to transport from South America to 

ART. XI. The Bank to receive 
from individuals, deposits of any 
sums of money, to be repaid when 
called for, or passed, by order, to 
the credit of others ; or deposits 
of plate, paying a certain annual 
rate for safe keeping. Whatever 
is deposited in the Bank, to be 
exempt from taxes. 

. 24.] 



ART. XII. The Bank to have 
a right to contract with the French 
government for the supply of its 
fleets and armies in America, and 
to contract with Congress for the 
supply of their armies. 

ART. XIII. The Bank to lend 
Congress one million, two hundred 
thousand pounds, lawful, at eight 
per cent, interest; for the payment 
of which, with its interest, a certain 
unalienable fund of one hundred 
and ten thousand, four hundred 
pounds per annum, to be establish 
ed for twenty years. The States, 
generally and severally, to pledge 
themselves for this sum, and for 
the due appropriation of the fund. 

a scale that would make it for the 
advantage of the Bank to purchase. 

REMARK 12. It will be of great 
importance to the success of the 
subscriptions, that a previous as 
surance of these contracts should 
take place : the profits of them 
would be no trifling inducement 
to adventurers ; it would have the 
air of employing the money sub 
scribed in trade. As soon, there 
fore, as the plan should be resolved 
upon, negotiations should be begun 
for the purpose. It is so clearly 
the interest of the French govern 
ment to enter into these contracts, 
that they must be blind not to do 
it, especially when it is proposed 
under the aspect of a method of 
re-establishing our finances. The 
present loss on their bills is enor 
mous. The Bank may engage to 
receive them at a moderate dis 
count, and to supply on better 
terms than they now make. Their 
business is at this time trusted to a 
variety of hands, some of which are 
neither very skilful nor very honest : 
competitions, frauds, and addition 
al expense, are the consequences. 

Congress could not hesitate on 
their parts, as the amount of the 
contracts would be a part of the 
loan required in Article XIII. 

REMARK 13. This loan will en 
able Congress to get through the 
expenses of the year. There may 
be a small deficiency, but this will 
be easily supplied. The credit of 
the Bank once established, it may 
increase its stock, and lend an 
equal sum every year during the 
war. This loan may be advanced, 
partly in a contract for provisions, 
clothing, etc., and partly in cash, 
at periodical payments, to avoid a 



[JET. 24. 

Congress to have a right, at any 
intermediate period, to pay off the 
debt, with the interest to the time 
of payment. The same rule to 
govern in all future loans. 

ART. XIV. The Bank to be 
come responsible for the redemp 
tion of all the paper now emitted ; 
the old, at forty for one in thirty 
years, the new at par, with gold 
and silver, according to the terms 
promised by Congress in their re 
solution of March, '80. One-third 
of the first to be redeemed at the 
end of every ten years ; and the 
whole of the last to be redeemed 
at the expiration of the six years 
specified by Congress, with the in 
terest of five per cent. The United 
States, in compensation for this re 
sponsibility, to establish certain 
funds for an annuity, payable to 
the Bank, equal to the discharge 
of the whole amount of the paper 
currency in thirty years, with an 
interest of two per cent, per annum. 

too quick multiplication of Bank 

REMARK 14. It is of the great 
est importance that the old curren 
cy should be fixed at a certain value, 
or there will be danger of its infect 
ing the future paper : besides, we 
want to raise it to a point that will 
make it approach nearer to an ad 
equate medium. I have chosen 
the resolution of March, '80, as a 
standard. We ought not, on any 
account, to raise the value of the 
old paper higher than forty to one, 
for this will give it about the degree 
of value that is most salutary ; at 
the same time that it will avoid 
a second breach of faith, which 
would cause a violent death to all 
future credit. A stable currency 
is an idea fundamental to all prac 
ticable schemes of finance. It is 
the duty and interest of the public 
to give stability to that which now 
exists ; and it will be the interest 
of the Bank, which alone can effect 
it, to co-operate. I have not men 
tioned the amount of the annuity 
to be paid by Congress, because I 
have not materials to judge what 
quantity of paper money now ex 
ists ; since it will be necessary to 
take all the State emissions into 
the calculation. I suppose (includ 
ing State emissions) there may be 
about four hundred millions of 
dollars of the old standard, and 
about four millions of the new.* 
This will give us, in specie-value, 
about fourteen millions of dollars. 
This is what the Bank is to become 

* It is impossible too soon to make some arrangement that will enable Congress 
to put a stop to the further emission. 


answerable for, and what the public 
is to pay, by an annuity of thirty 
years, with two per cent, interest. 
This annuity would amount to six 
hundred and eleven thousand, three 
hundred and thirty-three, and one- 
third, dollars, for which funds are 
to be provided. 

By a rough calculation, I find 
that the Bank would gain, in the 
thirty years, about three millions 
of dollars, on the simple footing 
of interest; and that it will, at 
different periods, have more pub 
lic money in its possession, than it 
will be in advance at others : so 
that, upon the whole, the sum it 
will gain in interest, will be for the 
loan of its credit to the public, not 
of any specific sum of cash. Be 
sides, the interest of the Bank may 
gain a very considerable sum by 
the purchases it may make of the 
old paper at its current value, be 
fore the influence of this plan has 
time to bring it back to the point 
at which it is intended to be fixed.* 
It is the obvious interest of the 
United States to concur in this 
plan, because, by paying three 
millions of dollars in interest to 
the Bank, more than it would have 
to pay to the money-holders, agree 
ably to its present engagements, it 
would avoid a new breach of faith, 
fix its circulating medium increased 
in value more than one-half, ren 
der the taxes more productive, and 
introduce order into its finances, 
without which our independence is 
lost. It will also have only about 
two-thirds of the funds to establish 
for this plan that are required by 

* There is another immense consideration. The proprietors of the Bank will 
be the holders of a great part of this paper. They have it in their power to 
double the value of it by this plan : which is, in other words, to gain a hundred 
per cent. 

250 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [J3T. 24. 

the Act of March, '80, to discharge 
the new bills : it will, of course, 
reserve a large balance towards the 
current expenses, which is no in 
significant consideration. 

Perhaps it may be imagined, 
that the same funds established for 
the redemption of the money in 
the same time, without passing 
through the Bank, would have an 
equal effect upon its credit, and 
then we should save the interest of 
two per cent. Experience proves 
the contrary. We find the new 
notes depreciating in the States 
which have provided good funds. 
The truth is, there is not confi 
dence enough in any funds merely 
public. The responsibility of the 
Bank would beget a much stronger 
persuasion of the paper being re 
deemed, and have incomparably 
more efficacy in raising and con 
firming its credit. Besides, the 
Bank might immediately reduce 
the quantity by purchase, which 
the public could not do. 

It will be observed, that of the 
six millions of dollars which con 
stitute our annual revenue, I re 
quire nine hundred and seventy- 
nine thousand, three hundred and 
thirty-three, and one-third, dollars, 
in funds, to reimburse the loan for 
the first year, and pay off the 
annuity for the redemption of the 
old paper. It may be asked, where 
these funds are to be procured in 
the present impotence of our fed 
eral government. I answer, there 
are ample means for them, and 
they must be had. Congress must 
deal plainly with their constituents. 
They must tell them, that power 
without revenue is a bubble ; that 
unless they give them substantial 
resources of the latter, they will 
not have enough of the former, 

JET. 24.] 



either to prosecute the war, or to 
maintain the Union in peace ; 
that, in short, they must, in justice 
to the public and to their own 
honor, renounce the vain attempt 
of carrying on the war without 
either ; a perseverance in which, 
can only deceive the people, and 
betray their safety. They must 
demand an instant, positive, and 
perpetual investiture of an impost 
on trade ; a land tax, and a poll 
tax, to be collected by their own 
agents. This Act to become a 
part of the Confederation. 

It has ever been my opinion 
that Congress ought to have com 
plete sovereignty in all but the 
mere municipal law of each State ; 
and I wish to see a convention of 
all the States, with full power to 
alter and amend, finally and irre 
vocably, the present futile and 
senseless Confederation. 

The taxes specified, may be 
made to amount to three millions 
of dollars ; the other three mil 
lions to be raised by requisition, as 

KEMARK 15. It is essential 
that all taxes should be raised, 
throughout the United States, in 
specie, or Bank notes at par, or 
the old paper at its current value 
at the time of payment. This will 
serve to increase the circulation 
and credit of the Bank notes ; but 
no person should be obliged to re 
ceive them in private dealings. 
Their credit must depend on 
opinion ; and this opinion would 
be injured by legislative interposi 

ART. XVI. The Bank to dis- REMARK 16. This permission 
solve itself whenever it thinks pro- to dissolve or sell at pleasure, will 
per, making effectual provision for encourage men to adventure ; and, 

ART. XV. The Bank notes to 
be received in payment of all pub 
lic customs and taxes, at an equi 
valent with gold and silver. 




the payment of its debts ; and a 
proprietor of Bank stock to have 
the privilege of selling out when 
ever he pleases. 

ART. XVII. The Bank to be 
established for thirty years by way 
of experiment. 

ART. XVIII. No other Bank, 
public or private, to be permitted 
during that period. 

when once engaged, the profits 
will make them willing to con 

REMARK 17. This is chiefly to 
prevent some speculative men be 
ing alarmed, who, upon the whole, 
may think a paper credit detri 
mental and dangerous, though 
they would be willing, from neces 
sity, to encourage it for a limited 
time. Experience, too, may show 
the defects of this plan, and give 
rise to alterations for the better. 

Other Banks 
a competition pre- 

might excite 

judicial to the interests of this, 
and multiply and diversify paper 
credit too much. 

ART. XIX. Three Banks to 
be erected in Massachusetts, Penn 
sylvania, and Virginia, to facilitate 
the circulation and payment of the 
Bank notes. 

REMARK 19. These Banks 
ought to be in the interior of the 
country, remote from danger, with 
every precaution for their security 
in every way. Their distance from 
the capital trading points, will be 
an advantage, as it will make ap 
plications for the payment of Bank 
notes less convenient. 

ART. XX. The affairs of the 
Bank to be managed by twelve 
general Directors, men of reputa 
tion and fortune; eight of them 
to be chosen by the private pro 
prietors, and four by Congress. 
The Minister of Finance to have 
the privilege of inspecting all their 

REMARK 20. It is necessary, 
for reciprocal security of the pub 
lic, the proprietors, and the people, 
that the affairs of the Bank should 
be conducted under a joint direc 

These, as has been already observed, are only intended as 
outlines ; the form of administration for the Bank, and all other 
matters, may be easily determined, if the leading principles are 
once approved. We shall find good models in the different 


European Banks, which we can accommodate to our circumstances. 
Great care, in particular, should be employed to guard against 
counterfeits ; and I think methods may be devised that would be 

I see nothing to prevent the practicability of a plan of this 
kind, but a distrust of the final success of the war, which may make 
men afraid to risk any considerable part of their fortunes in the 
public funds ; but, without being an enthusiast, I will venture to 
assert, that, with such a resource as is here proposed, the loss of 
our independence is impossible. All we have to fear is, that the 
want of money may disband the army, or so perplex and en 
feeble our operations, as to create in the people a general disgust 
and alarm, which may make them clamor for peace on any 
terms. But if a judicious administration of our finances, assisted 
by a Bank, takes place, and the ancient security of property is 
restored, no convulsion is to be apprehended. Our opposition will 
soon assume an aspect of system and vigor, that will relieve and 
encourage the people, and put an end to the hopes of the enemy. 
'Tis evident they have it not in their power to subdue us by force 
of arms. In all these States they have not more than fifteen thou 
sand effective troops, nor is it possible for them much to aug 
ment this number. The East and West Indies demand reinforce 
ments. In all the Islands, they have not, at this time, above five 
thousand men ; a force not more than equal to the proper garri 
soning of Jamaica alone ; and which, the moment they lose a 
maritime superiority in those seas, will leave them much cause 
to fear for their possessions. They will probably send out fifteen 
hundred or two thousand men, to recruit their regiments already 
here ; but .this is the utmost they can do. 

Our allies have five thousand men at Khode Island, which, 
in the worst event that can happen, will be recruited to eight, to 
co-operate with us on a defensive plan. Should our army amount 
to no more than fifteen thousand men, the combined forces, 
though not equal to the expulsion of the enemy, will be equal to 
the purpose of compelling them to renounce their offensive, and 
content themselves with maintaining one or two capital points- 
This is on the supposition that the public have the means of 

254 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [J&T. 24. 

putting their troops in activity. By stopping the progress of 
their conquests, and reducing them to an unmeaning and dis 
graceful defensive, we destroy the national expectation of suc 
cess, from which the ministry draw their resources. It is not 
a vague conjecture, but a fact founded on the best information, 
that, had it not been for the capture of Charleston, and the 
victory of Camden, the ministry would have been in the utmost 
embarrassment for the supplies of this year. On the credit of 
those events, they procured a loan of five and twenty millions. 
They are in a situation where a want of splendid successes is 
ruin. -They have carried taxation nearly to its extreme bound 
ary ; they have mortgaged all their funds ; they have a large 
unfunded debt, besides the enormous mass which is funded. 
This must necessarily create apprehensions in their most sanguine 
partisans : and if these are not counteracted by flattering events, 
from time to time, they cannot much longer continue the delu 
sion. Indeed, in this case, I suppose they must themselves 

The game we play is a sure game, if we play it with skill. I 
have calculated, in the preceding observations, on the most dis 
advantageous side. Many events may turn up, in the course of 
the summer, to make even the present campaign decisive. 

If we compare the real ability of France, for revenue, with 
that of Great Britain ; the economy and sagacity in the conduct 
of the finances of the former ; the extravagance and dissipation 
which are overwhelming those of the latter ; there will be found 
every reason to believe, that the resources of France will out 
last those of her adversary. Her fleet is not much inferior, inde 
pendent of that of Spain and Holland. Combined with that of 
Spain, it is greatly superior. If the Dutch enter into the war in 
earnest, and add their fleet, the superiority will be irresistible. 
Notwithstanding the injury they may sustain in the first instance, 
the Dutch will be still formidable : they are rich in credit, and 
have extensive means for maritime power. 

Except the Emperor, who is hostile, and the Dane, who is 
neutral, all the rest of Europe are either friends to France or to 
our independence. 


Never did a nation unite more circumstances in its favor 
than we do : we have nothing against us but our own miscon 

There are two classes of men among us, equally mistaken : 
one who, in spite of daily experience, of accumulated distress, 
persist in a narrow line of policy, and, amidst the most 
threatening dangers, fancy every thing in perfect security. 
Another, who, judging too much from the outside, alarmed by 
partial misfortunes, and the disordered state of our finances, 
without estimating the real faculties of the parties, give them 
selves up to an ignorant and ill-founded despondency. We 
want to learn to appreciate our true situation and that of the 
enemy. This would preserve us from a stupid insensibility to 
danger on the one hand, and inspire us with a reasonable and 
enlightened confidence on the other. 

But let us suppose the worst, that we shall, after all, fail in 
our independence; our return to Great Britain, whenever it 
should happen, would be by compact. The war would termi 
nate by a mediation. It cannot be supposed that the mediator 
would be so devoted to Great Britain, or would have so little 
consideration for France, as to oblige us to revert to our former 
subjection by an unconditional surrender. While they might 
confirm his dominion over us, they would endeavor to save 
appearances for the honor of France, and stipulate terms as 
favorable to us as would be compatible with a state of depend 
ence. A general amnesty, and the security of private property 
(of course the payment of public debts), would be among the 
most simple and most indispensable. This would comprehend 
the concerns of the Bank ; and if, unfortunately for our virtue, 
such a circumstance could operate as an inducement, it might be 
added, that our enemies would be glad to find, and to encourage 
such an institution among us for their own benefit. 

A question may arise concerning the abilities of these States 
to pay their debts after the establishment of their independence ; 
and though any doubt on this head must originate in gross 
ignorance, it may be necessary to oppose it with more than 
general argument, as has been done heretofore. A very sum- 

256 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [^T. 24. 

mar j and obvious calculation will show that there is nothing to 
be dreaded on this head. 

The funds of nine hundred and seventy-nine thousand, three 
hundred and thirty -three, and one-third, dollars, proposed to be 
established for paying off the loan of the first year, and for re 
deeming the present paper, will, in thirty years, wipe off all the 
debts of the States, except those contracted to foreigners, which, 
I imagine, do not amount to four millions of dollars. Suppose 
we should be obliged, for two years besides the present, to 
borrow an equal sum each year from the Bank ; the fund re 
quisite to discharge these loans, on the same terms with the first, 
will amount to seven hundred and thirty-six thousand dollars, 
to be deducted from the five million, and twenty thousand, six 
hundred and sixty-six, and two-thirds, dollars, remaining on the 
annual revenue ; which will reduce it to four millions, two hun 
dred and eighty -four thousand, six hundred and sixty-six, and 
two-thirds, dollars : then the debt unfunded will be, 

To foreigners already contracted by supposition, i'i n-vTi' . $4,000,000 
Deficiency of Revenue to the expense to be obtained on credit, the 

first year. besides the loan from the Bank, .'_ , ... . , 1,479,333^ 
Deficiency of Revenue for the second year deducting the fund for 

discharging the loan of this year, . '.' ' . v ._ /'I" . 1,847,333^ 
Deficiency of Revenue for the third year, making the same deduction, 2,2 1 5 ; 333 


Should, then, the war last three years longer, which must 
probably be the utmost term of its duration, we shall find our 
selves with an unfunded debt of nine million, five hundred and 
forty -two thousand dollars,- and an unappropriated revenue of 
four million, two hundred and eighty -four thousand, six hundred 
and sixty -six, and two-thirds, dollars. 

The surplus of four millions, which is two hundred and 
eighty -four thousand, six hundred and sixty-six, and two-thirds, 
dollars, and the funds appropriated to the payment of the other 
debts which will revert to the public at the end of thirty years, 
will be a sufficient fund for the redemption of this debt in about 


thirty -five years : so that, according to my plan, at the end of 
thirty -five years these States have paid off the whole debt con 
tracted on account of the war ; and, in the mean time, will have 
a clear revenue of four millions of dollars, for defraying the ex 
penses of their civil and military establishments. 

This calculation supposes the ability of these States for reve 
nue to continue the same as they now are, which is a supposi 
tion both false and unfavorable. Speaking within moderate 
bounds, our population will be doubled in thirty years ; there 
will be a confluence of emigrants from all parts of the world ; 
our commerce will have a proportionable progress ; and of course 
our wealth and capacity for revenue. It will be a matter of 
choice if we are not out of debt in twenty years, without at all 
encumbering the people. 

A national debt, if it is not excessive, will be to us a national 
blessing. It will be a powerful cement of our Union. It will 
also create a necessity for keeping up taxation to a degree which, 
without being oppressive, will be' a spur to industry, remote as 
we are from Europe, and shall be from danger. It were other 
wise to be feared our popular maxims would incline us to too 
great parsimony and indulgence. "We labor less now than any 
civilized nation of Europe ; and a habit of labor in the people, 
is as essential to the health and vigor of their minds and bodies, 
as it is conducive to the welfare of the State. We ought not 
to suffer our self-love to deceive us in a comparison upon these 

I have spun out this letter to a much greater length than I 
intended. To develope the whole connection of my ideas on 
the subject, and place my plan in the clearest light, I have in 
dulged myself in many observations which might have been 
omitted. I shall not longer intrude upon your patience than to 
assure you of the sincere sentiments of esteem with which I have 
the honor to be, 

Sir, your most obedient and humble servant, 


VOL. i. 17 

258 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [JEn. 24. 


DE PEYSTER'S POINT, May 2, 1781. 


. I am extremely sorry to have embarrassed you by my late 
application, and that you should think there are insuperable ob 
stacles to a compliance with it. Having renounced my expecta 
tions, I have no other inducement for troubling your Excellency 
with a second letter, than to obviate the appearance of having 
desired a thing inconsistent with the good of the service, while 
I was acquainted with the circumstances that made it so. 

I was too interested a spectator of what happened in the case 
of Major M'Pherson, not to have remarked, and not to recollect 
all the circumstances. The opposition turned ostensibly on his 
being a brevet officer, yet having a command in a corps formed 
entirely from one line : the propriety of his being employed in 
a detachment from the army at large, so far as I remember, was 
not disputed. In delicacy to Major M'Pherson, no personal ob 
jections were formally made : but in reality they existed, and 
contributed to the discontent. It was thought a peculiar hard 
ship, that a gentleman who had, for a long time, fought against 
us, and had not taken part with us till a late period, and when 
our affairs had assumed a more prosperous aspect, should be pre 
ferred in one of the most honorary commands of the service. Your 
Excellency must be convinced, that I mention this in no other 
view than to show the sentiments of the officers at the time, and 
the whole grounds for the opposition. My esteem for Major 
M'Pherson, and other reasons, make it impossible I can have a 
different intention. 

I know less of the motives of dissatisfaction in the case of Col 
onel Gimat and Major Gal van ; but I have understood that it is 
founded on their being appointed in the light corps for two suc 
cessive campaigns. 

It would be uncandid in me, not to acknowledge that I be 
lieve a disposition to exclude brevet officers in general from com 
mand, has a great share in the opposition in every instance ; and 
that so far it affects my case. But, at the same time, it appears 
to me, this principle alone can never be productive of more than 


momentary murmurs, where it is not seconded by some plausi 
ble pretext. I also am convinced that the Pennsylvania officers, 
for their own sakes, repented the rash steps they had taken ; and, 
on cool reflection, were happy in an opportunity to relinquish 
their menaces of quitting a service to which they were attached 
by habit, inclination, and interest, as well as by patriotism. I 
believe, too, we shall never have a similar instance in the army, 
unless the practice should be carried to excess. Major Gal van, 
I am told, will probably be relieved. Colonel Gimat will be 
then the only brevet officer remaining in command. Your Ex 
cellency is the best judge of the proper limits ; and there can be 
no doubt, that the rights of particular officers ought to give place 
to the general good and tranquillity of the service. 

I cannot forbear repeating, that my case is peculiar, and dis 
similar to all the former. It is distinguished by the circum 
stances I have before intimated; my early entrance into the 
service ; my having made the campaign of '76, the most disa 
greeable of the war, at the head of a company of artillery, and 
having been entitled, in that corps, to a rank, equal in degree, 
more ancient in date, than I now possess ; my having made all 
the subsequent campaigns in the family of the Commander-in- 
Chief, in a constant course of important and laborious service. 
These are my pretensions, at this advanced period of the war, to 
being employed in the only way which my situation admits ; 
and I imagine they would have their weight in the minds of the 
officers in general. I only urge them a second time, as reasons 
which will not suffer me to view the matter in the same light 
with your Excellency, or to regard, as impracticable, my appoint 
ment in a light corps, should there be one formed. I entreat 
they may be understood in this sense only. I am incapable of 
wishing to obtain any object by importunity. I assure your Ex 
cellency, that I am too well persuaded of your candor, to attrib 
ute your refusal to any other cause than an apprehension of in 
conveniences that may attend the appointment. 

I have the honor to be, with perfect respect, 

Sir, your most obed't servant, 

General Washington. 

260 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [JEi. 24. 

P. S. I have used the term brevet in the sense your Excel 
lency appears to have understood it in, as signifying, in general, 
all officers not attached to any established corps. Congress seem, 
however, to have made a distinction : they only give a kind of 
warrant to those whom they designate as brevet officers. Mine 
is a regular commission. 



NEWPORT, 10 May, 1781. 

Je suis certain, mon cher Colonel, de vous faire plaisir en 
vous aprenant que votre ami Laurens est arrive a Paris en 
bonne sante, apres une traversee favorable. Au depart de la 
frigate La Concorde arrivee a Boston avec M. de Barras amirat, 
qui vient prendre le commandement de notre flotte, et M. le 
Vicomte de Kochambau, Mr. Laurens avait deja eu plusieurs con 
ferences avec nos ministres ; il aura e^e" bien ecoute et bien en- 
tendu de celui qui est charge du departement de la marine, ainsi 
que de notre controleur general. Ces deux hommes paraissent 
influx's infiniment dans ce moment sur 1'opinion du Hoi de 
France et celle du peuple ; qui finit en France, comme dans tous 
les pays du monde par etre entendue. Yous saurez certainement 
quels sont les preparatifs pour cette campagne ; je de*sire que 
nous puissions delivrer I'Ame'rique des souffrances qu'elle 
dprouve: quoique je ne sois point ne dans un pays libre mon 
cher Colonel, je verrai avec plaisir les fondemens que vous allez 
Stablir pour le bonheur et la tranquillity d'un peuple chez lequei 
toutes les nations de 1'Europe auront les memes droits. Une 
fois cette epoque arrivee, 1'Humanite jettera avec plaisir ses 
yeux sur 1'autre monde, et verra sans envi un peuple qui ne 
devra son bonheur qu'a son propre courage. S'il m'est possible 
de placer une petite pierre dans ce vaste edifice, je me trouverai 
parfaitement heureux. 

Le Ministre charge de gouverner les finances de notre puis- 


sance vient d'obtenir du roi de France la permission de lui rendre 
un compte public de son administration depuis cinq-ans qu'il en 
a la direction: cet exemple, le premier de ce genre 'a frappe* 
1'Europe d'etonnement et d'amiration pour la conduite de ce 
grand homme ; il prouve qu'au commencement de son ministere 
les de*penses de 1'Etat excedait les recettes de 24 millions. Les 
diffe'rentes economies qu'il a pu etablir, malgre* la guerre et les 
frais enormes qu'elle exige, a retabli non seulement 1'equilibre 
mais meme un benefice de dix millions de rente excedante et 
dix sept millions cinq-cent mille livres, employe annuellement a 
des remboursements de rentes perpetuelles. Ce qui produit 
maintenant 27 millions de rente de plus que de d6pense. La 
maniere e"nergique, raissonnee et claire rend son ouvrage per- 
suasif aux yeux meme de ses ennemis. Je compte vous en- 
voyer ce livre par la premiere occasion et par celle-ci meme, si 
1'homme qui vous remettra ma lettre veut s'en charger. 

Je vous demanderais pardon de mon importunite, mon cher 
Colonel, si je n'avais pas et6 assez heureux pour vous donner de 
nouvelles de notre ami. Je vous prie de ne pas douter de 1'ex- 
treme plaisir que j'aurai dans tous les terns de ma vie a vous 
prouver combien mon attachement pour vous est tendre et 


Je vous prie de presenter mon respectueux hommage a Son 
Excellence le General Washington ; il force ses ennemis memes 
a 1'estimer, et lorsqu'on 1'a vu deux fois il laisse 1'impression du 
respect le plus tendre. 

Col. Hamilton. 


NEWPORT, May 18, 1781. 


* * -X- * -5f * * 

M. de Barras arrived a few days since, with, the General's 
son, in a frigate from France. He has taken the command of 


the fleet. Seven hundred land forces are now embarking, the 
wind is fair, and they sail this day to meet the convoy expected 
from France, with provisions and recruits for the regiments here. 
I fear they will have a very trifling augmentation of force, and 
that this campaign will prove as inactive as the last. I imagine 
you will be with General Washington at the conference. You 
will have the pleasure to see General Chastellux, who will give 
you this letter. At his return, I expect it will be decided 
whether the army marches or not : at present it seems a matter 
of great doubt, notwithstanding the preparations which are 
making. I am astonished we hear nothing from the southward. 
I fear, if the detachment, embarked at New- York, is destined for 

that quarter, that the enemy will make a considerable progress. 

Your friend and servant, 

Colonel Hamilton. 


RICHMOND, May 23, 1781. 


I have been long complaining that I had nothing to do ; and 
want of employment was an objection I had to my going to the 
southward. But for the present, my dear friend, my complaint 
is quite of an opposite nature ; and I have so many arrange 
ments to make, so many difficulties to combat, so many enemies 
to deal with, that I am just that much of a general, as will make 
me a historian of misfortunes, and nail my name upon the ruins 
of what good folks are pleased to call the army in Virginia. 

There is an age past since I heard from you. I acknowledge 
that, on my part, I have not written so often as I ought to have 
done ; but you will excuse this silence in favor of my very em 
barrassing circumstances. However remote you may be from 
your former post of aid-de-camp to the Commander-in-Chief, I 

jEi. 24.] CORRESPONDENCE. 263 

am sure you are nevertheless acquainted with every transaction 
at head quarters. My letters have served to your information, 
and I shall consequently abstain from repetitions. 

Our forced march saved Kichmond ; Phillips was going 
down ; and thus far I was very happy. Phillips's return, his 
landing at Brandon, south side of James River, and the unmo 
lested journey of Lord Cornwallis through North Carolina, made 
me apprehensive of the storm that was gathering, I advanced 
towards Petersburg, and intended to have established a commu 
nication upon James and Appamatox Rivers. Had Phillips 
marched to Halifax, I was determined to follow him ; and 
should have risked every thing rather than to omit making a 
diversion in favor of Greene. But that army took possession of 
Petersburg, and obliged me to stick to this side of the river, 
from whence reinforcements are expected. Both armies have 
formed their junction, and must consist of between four and five 
thousand men. We have nine hundred continentals. Their 
infantry is near five to one ; their cavalry ten to one. Our 
militia are not numerous, come without arms, and are not used 
to war. Government wants energy; and there is nothing to 
enforce the laws. General Greene has directed me to take com 
mand in this State ; and I must tell, by the way, that his letter 
is very polite and affectionate. It then became my duty to 
arrange the departments, which I found in the greatest confu 
sion and relaxation. Nothing can be obtained, and yet expenses 
were enormous. 

The Baron, and the few new levies he could collect, are or 
dered to South Carolina. I am glad he goes, as the hatred of 
the Virginians to him was truly hurtful to the service. Is it not 
strange that General Wayne's detachment cannot be heard of? 
They are to go to Carolina ; but should I want them for a few 
days, I am at liberty to keep them. This permission I will im 
prove, so far as to receive one blow, that, being beat, I may at 
least be beat with some decency. There are accounts that make 
Lord Cornwallis very strong : others make him very weak. In 
this country there is no getting good intelligence. 

I request you will write me, if you approve of my conduct. 


The command of the waters, the superiority in cavalry, and the 
great disproportion of forces, gave the enemy such advantages, 
that I durst not venture out, and listen to my fondness for en 
terprise. To speak truth, I was afraid of myself as much as of 
the enemy. Independence has rendered me the more cautious, 
as I know my own warmth. But if the Pennsylvanians come, 
Lord Cornwallis shall pay something for his victory. 

I wish a reinforcement of light infantry, to recruit the bat 
talions, or a detachment under General Huntington was sent to 
me. I wish Laurens or Sheldon were immediately dispatched 
with their horse. 

Come here, my dear friend, and command our artillery in 
Virginia. I want your advice and your exertions. If you grant 
my request, you will vastly oblige, 

Your friend, 


Colonel Hamilton. 


PHILADELPHIA, May 26, 1781. 


It is some time since I received your performance dated the 
30th of April last. I have read it with that attention which it 
justly deserves, and finding many points of it to coincide with my 
own opinions on the subject, it naturally strengthened that con 
fidence which every man ought to possess, to a certain degree, in 
his own judgment. You will very soon see the plan of a Bank 
published, and subscriptions opened for its establishment, having 
already met with the approbation of Congress. It only remains 
for individuals to do their part, and a foundation will be laid for 
the anticipation of taxes and funds, by a paper credit that cannot 

The capital proposed falls far short of your idea, and, indeed, 
far short of what it ought to be ; but I am confident, if this is 
once accomplished, the capital may afterwards be increased to 


almost any amount. To propose a large sum in the outset, and 
fail in the attempt to raise it, might prove fatal. To begin with 
what is clearly in our power to accomplish, and on that begin 
ning, to establish the credit that will inevitably command the 
future increase of capital, seems the most certain road to success. 
I have thought much about interweaving a landed security with 
the capital of this Bank, but am apprehensive it would convey 
to the public mind, an idea of paper being circulated on that 
credit, and that the Bank, of consequence, must fail in its pay 
ments, in case of any considerable run on it : and we must ex 
pect that its ruin will be attempted, by external and internal foes. 
I have therefore left that point to the future deliberations of the 
Directors of this Bank, to whom, in due time, I shall communi 
cate your address. I esteem myself much your debtor for this 
piece, not merely on account of the personal respect you have 
been pleased to express, but also on account of your good in 
tentions : and for these, and the pains you have taken, I not only 
think, but on all proper occasions, shall say, the public are also 
indebted to you. 

My office is new, and I am young in the execution of it. 
Communications from men of genius and abilities will always be 
acceptable ; and yours will always command the attention of, 

Your obedient, humble servant, 

Colonel Hamilton. 


ALBANY, May 30, 1781. 


Your favor, covering copies of the letters which passed be 
tween the General and you, I received on Friday last at Sara 
toga, which I left, somewhat indisposed, on Sunday, and arrived 
in the evening. The fatigue of the journey increased my dis 
order, which is the quinsy, with so much rapidity, that before 

266 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [^E T . 24. 

Tuesday morning I was twice bled to prevent suffocation. The 
inflammation is subsiding, and I have been able to swallow a 
little broth to-day. I propose to attend the Legislature the latter 
end of the next week, when I shall have the pleasure of seeing 
you at Fishkill on the Sunday following. I believe you may 
prepare yourself to go to Philadelphia, as there is little doubt 
but you will be appointed. 

The enemy are arrived at Crown Point : their number not 
perfectly ascertained, but I believe about two thousand. It is 
said they intend to fortify there. A rumor prevails that the 
three companies of Yan Schaik's, now to the northward, are to 
be called down. If so, I shall instantly remove my family and 
stock from Saratoga, being certain, if I delay it more than four 
days after the troops move, that the enemy will possess them 
selves of the whole. Adieu. 

I am, dear Sir, 

Most affectionately 

And sincerely, 

Your obedient servant, 

Colonel Hamilton. 


CAMP NEAR DOBBS' FERRY, July 10, 1781. 

The day before yesterday I arrived here, but for want of an 
opportunity could not write any sooner ; indeed, I know of none 
now. Finding when I came here, that nothing was said on the 
subject of a command, I wrote the General a letter, and inclosed 
him my commission. This morning Tilghman came to me in 
his name, pressed me to retain my commission, with an assu 
rance that he would endeavor, by all means, to give me a com 
mand, nearly such as I could have desired in the present cir 
cumstances of the army. Though I know you would be happy 
to hear I had rejected this proposal, it is a pleasure my reputa- 

jEi. 24.] CORRESPONDENCE. 267 

tion would not permit me to afford you. I consented to retain 
my commission, and accept the command. I quarter, at present, 
by a very polite and warm invitation, with General Lincoln, 
and experience from the officers of both armies every mark of 
esteem. * * * 



Camp, August 7, 1781. 


The other day I applied to Colonel Tilghman for an order 
for shoes, for the two companies of levies. He thought, on a 
general principle, it could not be granted ; but as from the best 
of my own recollection, confirmed by inquiry of others, I have 
reason to believe a distinction was made last campaign in favor 
of the advanced corps, in the case of Cortland's regiment, I am 
induced to submit the matter to your Excellency. 

Your Excellency is sensible that the service of an advanced 
corps, must be in general more active than of the line; and 
that, in a country like this, the article of shoes is indispensable. 
If the men cannot be supplied, they cannot perform the duty re 
quired of them ; which will make the service fall heavier upon 
that part of the corps which is not under the same disability, as 
well as render a considerable part of it of much less utility. I 
will not add any personal consideration to those which affect 
the service ; though it certainly cannot be a matter of indiffer 
ence to me. 

The men, I am informed, have, in general, received a boun 
ty of about thirty pounds each, which is spent. The State 
makes no provision for them ; and the fact is, they cannot sup 
ply themselves : they must therefore be destitute if they have 
not a continental supply. 

The distinction last campaign, was, if I am not mistaken, 

268 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [Mi. 24. 

that shoes were an article of absolute necessity, and therefore 
to be allowed, though the articles of clothing were refused. 
I have the honor to be, 
Very respectfully, 

Your Excellency's 

Most ob't and humble serv't, 

To General Washington. 


August, 1781. 

In my last letter I informed you that there was a greater 
prospect of activity now, than there had been heretofore. I did 
this to prepare your mind for an event which, I am sure, will 
give you pain. I begged your father, at the same time, to inti 
mate to you, by degrees, the probability of its taking place. I 
used this method to prevent a surprise, which might be too 
severe to you. A part of the army, my dear girl, is going to 
Virginia, and I must, of necessity, be separated at a much greater 
distance from my beloved wife. I cannot announce the fatal 
necessity, without feeling every thing that a fond husband can 
feel. I am unhappy ; I am unhappy beyond expression. - I 
am unhappy, because I am to be so remote from you ; because 
I am to hear from you less frequently than I am accustomed 
to do. I am miserable, because I know you will be so; I 
am wretched at the idea of flying so far from you, without a 
single hour's interview, to tell you all my pains and all my love. 
But I cannot ask permission to visit you. It might be thought 
improper to leave my corps at such a time, and upon such an 
occasion. I must go without seeing you I must go without em 
bracing you ; alas ! I must go. But let no idea, other than of 
the distance we shall be asunder, disquiet you. Though I said 
the prospects of activity will be greater, I said it to give your 
expectations a different turn, and prepare you for something dis- 


agreeable. It is ten to one that our views will be disappointed, 
by Cornwallis retiring to South Carolina by land. At all events, 
our operations will be over by the latter end of October, and I 
will fly to my home. Don't mention I am going to Virginia. 


HEAD OF ELK, September 6, 1781. 

Yesterday, my lovely wife, I wrote to you, inclosing you a 
letter in one to your father, to the care of Mr. Morris. To-mor 
row the post sets out, and to-morrow we embark for Yorktown. 
I cannot refuse myself the pleasure of writing you a few lines. 
Constantly uppermost in my thoughts and affections, I am happy 
only when my moments are devoted to some office that respects 
you. I would give the world to be able to tell you all I feel 
and all I wish, but consult your own heart and you will know 
mine. What a world will soon be between us ! To support the 
idea, all my fortitude is insufficient. "What must be the case 
with you, who have the most female of female hearts? I 
sink at the perspective of your distress, and I look to heaven to 
be your guardian and supporter. Circumstances that have just 
come to my knowledge, assure me that our operations will be 
expeditious, as well as our success certain. Early in November, 
as I promised you, we shall certainly meet. Cheer yourself with 
this idea, and with the assurance of never more being separated. 
Every day confirms me in the intention of renouncing public 
life, and devoting myself wholly to you. Let others waste their 
time and their tranquillity in a vain pursuit of power and glory ; 
be it my object to be happy in a quiet retreat with my better 


270 HAMILTON'S WORKS. ^T. 24. 


ALBANY, September 16, 1781. 


The mail which was taken a few days ago at Hampton, has 
probably deprived me of the pleasure of a line from you. 

We are advised, by a letter from Mr. Carter, that General 
Washington embarked with all except the rear division of the 
French, at the head of Elk on the 8th inst. ; hence I hope you 
are now operating against Cornwallis. It is difficult to judge 
with precision of your prospects at this distance ; but matters 
and appearances are so favorable, that they justify a hope that 
the operations will be crowned with ample success. 

The Legislature of this State is to convene on the 1st of 
October, at Poughkeepsie : delegates are to be chosen: your 
friends will propose you. If you should be appointed, you will 
have time to consider, whether to accept or refuse will be 
most eligible. Should Cornwallis and his army fall into our 
hands, peace may, and probably will, be the consequence. If 
so, I should most earnestly wish you in Congress: and if not, 
I should still prefer it to your remaining in the army, for reasons 
that are obvious. 

I am, dear Sir, 

Affectionately and sincerely, 
Your obedient servant, 

Colonel Hamilton. 


CAMP BEFORE YORK TOWN, Oct. 15, 1781. 


I have the honor to render you an account of the corps 
under my command in your attack of last night upon the re 
doubt on the left of the enemy's lines. 

jEi. 24.] CORRESPONDENCE. 271 

Agreeably to your orders we advanced in two columns with 
unloaded arms: the right composed of Lieutenant-Colonel 
Gimat's battalion and my own, commanded by Major Fish; the 
left, of a detachment commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Laurens, 
destined to take the enemy in reverse, and intercept their re 
treat. The column on the right was preceded by a vanguard of 
twenty men, led by Lieutenant Mansfield ; and a detachment of 
sappers and miners, commanded by Captain Gilliland, for the 
purpose of removing obstructions. 

The redoubt was commanded by Major Campbell, with a 
detachment of British and German troops, and was completely 
in a state of defence. 

The rapidity and immediate success of the assault are the 
best comment on the behavior of the troops. Lieutenant-Colonel 
Laurens distinguished himself by an exact and vigorous execu 
tion of his part of the plan, by entering the enemy's work with 
his corps among the foremost, and making prisoner the command 
ing officer of the redoubt. Lieutenant-Colonel Gimat's battalion, 
which formed the van of the right-attack, and which fell under 
my immediate observation, encouraged by the decisive and ani 
mated example of their leader, advanced with an ardor and reso 
lution superior to every obstacle. They were well seconded by 
Major Fish with the battalion under his command, who, when 
the front of the column reached the abatis, unlocking his corps 
to the left, as he had been directed, advanced with such celerity 
as to arrive in time to participate in the assault. 

Lieutenant Mansfield deserves particular commendation for 
the coolness, firmness, and punctuality with which he conducted 
the vanguard. Captain Olney, who commanded the first platoon 
of Gimat's battalion, is entitled to peculiar applause. He led his 
platoon into the work with exemplary intrepidity, and received 
two bayonet wounds. Captain Gilliland, with the detachment of 
sappers and miners, acquitted themselves in a manner that did 
them great honor. 

I do but justice to the several corps when I have the pleasure 
to assure you, there was not an officer nor soldier whose behavior, 

272 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [JE T . 24. 

if it could be particularized, would not have a claim to the warm 
est approbation. As it would have been attended with delay 
and loss, to wait for the removal of the abatis and palisades, the 
ardor of the troops was indulged in passing over them. 

There was a happy coincidence of movements. The redoubt 
was in the same moment enveloped and carried in every part. 
The enemy are entitled to the acknowledgment of an honorable 

Permit me to have the satisfaction of expressing our obliga 
tions to Col. Armand, Capt. Legongne, the Chevalier De Fonte- 
vieux and Capt. Bedkin, officers of his corps, who, acting upon 
this occasion as volunteers, proceeded at the head of the right 
column, and entering the redoubt among the first, by their gal 
lant example contributed to the success of the enterprise. 

Our killed and wounded you will perceive by the inclosed 
return. I sensibly felt, at a critical period, the loss of the assist 
ance of Lieutenant-Colonel Gimat, who received a musket ball 
in his foot, which obliged him to retire from the field. Captain 
Bets, of Laurens's corps, Captain Hunt and Lieutenant Mansfield, 
of Gimat's, were wounded with the bayonet in gallantly entering 
the work. Captain Kirkpatrick, of the corps of sappers and 
miners, received a wound in the ditch. 

Inclosed is a return of the prisoners. The killed and 
wounded of the enemy did not exceed eight. Incapable of imi 
tating examples of barbarity, and forgetting recent provocations, 
the soldiery spared every man who ceased to fight. 
I have the honor to be, 

With the warmest esteem and attachment, 
Sir, your most ob't and humble serv't, 

Lieut. Col. Commanding. 

Major-General the Marquis De La Fayette. 

. 25.] 



Return of the killed and wounded in the advanced corps commanded by 
Lieutenant-Colonel Hamilton, in an attack on the enemy's left redoubt, on the 
evening of the 14th of Oct., 1781. 






Rank & 
























Lt. Col. Hamilton's bat- 

talion .... 


Lt. Col. Gimat's bat- 

talion .... 







Lt. Col. Laurens' detach 

ment .... 




Corps of Sappers and 

9 Miners, 



Total, . . . 











I need not observe to your Excellency, that respect for the 
opinion of Congress will not permit me to be indifferent to the 
impressions they may receive of my conduct. On this principle, 
though I do not think the subject of the inclosed letter of suffi 
cient importance to request an official communication of it, yet I 
should be happy it might in some way be known to the mem 
bers of that honorable body. Should they hereafter learn, that 
though retained on the list of their officers, I am not in the ex 
ecution of the duties of my station, I wish them to be sensible, 
that it is not a diminution of zeal which induces me voluntarily 
to withdraw my services, but that I only refrain from intruding 
them, when circumstances seem to have made them either not 
necessary or not desired ; and that I shall not receive emolu 
ments without performing the conditions to which they were 
VOL. i. 18 

274 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [^T. 25. 

annexed. I also wish them to be apprised upon what footing 
my future continuance in the army is placed; that they may 
judge how far it is expedient to permit it. I therefore take the 
liberty to request the favor of your Excellency to impart the 
knowledge of my situation in such manner as you think most 

I have the honor to be, 
With perfect respect, 
Your Excellency's 

Most ob't and humble servant, 

General Washington. 


PHILADELPHIA, March 1, 1782. 


Your Excellency will, I am persuaded, readily admit the 
force of this sentiment, that though it is the duty of a good cit 
izen to devote his services to the public, when it has occasion for 
them, he cannot, with propriety or delicacy to himself, obtrude 
them when it either has, or appears to have, none. The difficul 
ties I experienced last campaign in obtaining a command, will 
not suffer me to make any further application on that head. 

As I have many reasons to consider my being employed here 
after in a precarious light, the bare possibility of rendering an 
equivalent will not justify, to my scruples, the receiving any 
future emoluments from my commission. I therefore renounce, 
from this time, all claim to the compensations attached to my mil 
itary station during the war, or after it. But I have motives which 
will not permit me to resolve on a total resignation. I sincerely 
hope a prosperous train of affairs may continue to make it no 
inconvenience to decline the services of persons, whose zeal, in 
worse times, was found not altogether useless: but as the most 
promising appearances are often reversed by unforeseen disasters, 


and as unfortunate events may again make the same zeal of some 
value, I am unwilling to put it out of my power to renew my 
exertions in the common cause, in the line in which I have 
hitherto acted. 

I shall accordingly retain my rank while I am permitted to do 
it ; and take this opportunity to declare, that I shall be at all 
times ready to obey the call of the public, in any capacity, civil 
or military (consistent with what I owe to myself), in which there 
may be a prospect of my contributing to the final attainment 
of the object for which I embarked in the service. 
I have the honor to be, 
Very respectfully, 

Your Excellency's 

Most obedient servant, 

General Washington. 


PHILADELPHIA, March, 1782. 

A half hour since brought me the pleasure of your letter 
of December last. It went to Albany and came from thence to 
this place. I heartily felicitate you on the birth of your daugh 
ter. I can well conceive your happiness on that occasion, by 
that which I feel on a similar one. Indeed, the sensations of a 
tender father of the child of a beloved mother, can only be con 
ceived by those who have experienced them. 

Your heart, my Meade, is peculiarly formed for enjoyments 
of this kind. You have every right to be a happy husband a 
happy father. You have every prospect of being so. I hope 
your felicity may never be interrupted. 

You cannot imagine how entirely domestic I am growing. I 
lose all taste for the pursuits of ambition. I sigh for nothing but 
the company of my wife and my baby. The ties of duty alone, 


or imagined duty, keep me from renouncing public life altogether. 
It is, however, probable I may not any longer be engaged in it. 
I have explained to you the difficulties which I met with in ob 
taining a command last campaign. I thought it incompatible 
with the delicacy due to myself, to make any application this 
campaign. I have expressed this sentiment in a letter to the 
General, and, retaining my rank only, have relinquished the 
emoluments of my commission, declaring myself, notwithstanding, 
ready at all times to obey the calls of the public. I don't expect 
to hear any of these, unless the state of our affairs should change 
for the worse, and lest by any unforeseen accident that would 
happen, I choose to keep myself in a situation again to contrib 
ute my aid. This prevents a total resignation. 

You were right in supposing I neglected to prepare what I 
promised you at Philadelphia. The truth is, I was in such a 
hurry to get home that I could think of nothing else. As I set 
out to-morrow morning for Albany, I cannot from this place, 
send you the matter you wish. 

Imagine, my dear Meade, what pleasure it must give Eliza 
and myself to know that Mrs. Meade interests herself in us. 
Without a personal acquaintance, we have been long attached to 
her. My visit at Mr. Fitzhugh's confirmed my partiality. Betsy 
is so fond of your family, that she proposes to form a match 
between her boy and your girl, provided you will engage to make 
the latter as amiable as her mother. 

Truly, my dear Meade, I often regret that fortune has cast 
our residence at such a distance from each other. It would be a 
serious addition to my happiness if we lived where I could see 
you every day ; but fate has determined it otherwise. I am a 
little hurried, and can only request, in addition, that you will 
present me most affectionately to Mrs. Meade, and believe me to 

With the warmest 

And most unalterable friendship, 




PARIS, April 12, 1782. 


However silent you may please to be, I will nevertheless re 
mind you of a friend who loves you tenderly, and who, by his 
attachment, deserves a great share in your affection. This letter, 
my dear sir, will be delivered or sent by Count de Segur, an 
intimate friend of mine, a man of wit and of abilities, and whose 
society you will certainly be pleased with. I warmly recom 
mend him to you, and hope he will meet from you with more 
than civilities. Now let us talk politics. 

The old Ministry have retired, and Lord North was not sorry 
at the opportunity. The new ministers are not much our friends : 
they are not friends to each other : they have some honest men 
with little sense, and some sensible men without honesty. They 
are forced to new measures, not only by circumstances, but also 
by the dispositions they have formerly announced. 

Entre nous seuls. 81 [the British Ministry] gave a hint to 82 
[the French Ministers'], but it would not do without 54 [America]. 
Now the reverse will probably be done ; after which, arrange 
ments will take place in a few months, and I wish you was here, 
not so much 205 [Secretary to Dr. Franklin], as to the Commission. 
However, I would like 205 to be 125 [Minister to the French 
Court]. If you are 153 [Member of Congress], and if something 
is said to you there, I wish you may be employed in the answer. 
5 [French ships] without 9 [Spanish ships] (and 4 [Dutch] is no 
thing), will not, I fear, give 40 [Charleston.} That is a cause of 
delay, and the 7 [/Spaniards] think much more of 8 [ West Indies]. 
But I hope for 26 [Carolina] and 22 [Georgia] in 18 [/September]. 
84 [the King of France] has answered about 47 [peace], as you 
and I, and every good American, may wish. 

* The figures in the present letter are part of a cipher concerted between 
Hamilton and LaFayette. The interpretations, here placed between brackets 
are written over the figures, on the originals, in General Hamilton's hand 
writing. Editor. 

278 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [^T. 25. 

In the present situation of affairs, I thought my presence 
was more useful to the cause in this part of the world than it 
could be on the other side of the Atlantic. I wish to have some 
matters well arranged before I go, and then I hope to set sails 
towards my friends in America. 

Be pleased, my dear friend, to present my best respects to 
your lady. My compliments wait on General Schuyler and all 
the family. Adieu, dear Hamilton. 

With the most sincere attachment, 
I am, for ever, 

Your devoted, affectionate servant, 

Colonel Hamilton. 




Mr. Charles Stewart, late Commissary General of Issue, has 
informed me you are disposed to quit the military line for the 
purpose of entering into civil life. He, at the same time, in 
duced me to believe, that you would accept the office of Ee- 
ceiver of the Continental taxes for the State of New- York. 
The intention of this letter is to offer you that appointment. 
The duties of the office will appear, in a great degree, from the 
publications made by me on this subject. In addition, it will be 
necessary that you correspond frequently with me, and give 
accurate accounts of whatever may be passing in your State, 
which it may be necessary for this office to be acquainted with. 
But this, and other things of that sort, will be more fully com 
municated after you have signified your acceptance of the office. 
For the trouble of executing it, I shall allow you one-fourth per 
cent, on the moneys you receive. The amount of the quota 
called for from New- York, for the current year, is, as you know, 
three hundred and seventy-three thousand, five hundred and 


ninety-eight dollars. I shall be glad to know your determina 
tion as soon as possible. I make to you no professions of my 
confidence and esteem, because I hope they are unnecessary; 
but if they are, my wish that you would accept the offer I make 
is the strongest evidence I can give of them. 
I pray you, Sir, to believe me, 
Very respectfully, 

Your most ob't and humble serv't, 

Colonel Hamilton. 


ALBANY, May 18, 1782. 


I had this day the honor of receiving your letter of the 
second instant, and am much obliged by the mark of your con 
fidence which it contains ; and to Colonel Stewart for his friendly 
intentions upon the occasion. 

My military situation has indeed become so negative that I 
have no motive to continue in it ; and if my services could be of 
importance to the public in a civil line, I should cheerfully 
obey its command. But the plan which I have marked out to 
myself is the profession of the law ; and I am now engaged in a 
course of studies for that purpose. Time is so precious to me, 
that I could not put myself in the way of any interruptions, 
unless for an object of consequence to the public or to myself. 
The present is not of this nature. Such are the circumstances 
of this State, the benefit arising from the office you propose 
would not, during the war, exceed yearly one hundred pounds ; 
for, unfortunately, I am persuaded it will not pay annually into 
the Continental treasury above forty thousand pounds ; and on 
a peace establishment this will not be for some time to come 
much more than doubled. You will perceive, sir, that an en 
gagement of this kind does not correspond with my views, and 
does not afford sufficient inducement to relinquish them. 


I am not the less sensible of the obliging motives which 
dictated the offer; and it will be an additional one to that 
respect and esteem with which I have the honor to be, very 
truly sir, 

Your most obedient, humble servant, 

To the Hon. Eobert Morris, Esq. 


OFFICE OF FINANCE, June 4, 1782. 


I have received your favor of the eighteenth of May. I am 
much obliged by the friendly sentiments you express for me, 
which, be assured, I shall retain a grateful sense of. I see, with 
you, that the office I had the pleasure of offering, will not be 
equal to what your abilities will gain in the profession of the 
law; but I did intend that the 'whole sum should have been paid, 
although the whole quota of the taxes had not been collected 
by the State : consequently the object is greater than you sup 
posed, and the business might probably be effected without more 
attention than you could spare from your studies. If so, I 
should still be happy in your acceptance; and will leave the 
matter open until I have an opportunity of hearing from you 
upon the subject. 

I pray you to believe that I am, 
With unfeigned esteem, 

Your most obedient servant, 

Colonel Alexander Hamilton. 



ALBANY, June 17, 1782. 


The letter which you did me the honor to write me, of the 
fourth instant, came to my hands too late to permit me to answer 
it by the return of the same post. The explanation you give of 
your intention in your late offer, makes it an object that will 
fully compensate for the time it will deduct from my other occu 
pations. In accepting it, I have only one scruple, arising from a 
doubt whether the service I can render, in the present state of 
things, will be an equivalent for the compensation. The whole 
system (if it may be so called) of taxation in this State is radi 
cally vicious, burthensome to the people, and unproductive to 
Government. As the matter now stands, there seems to be little 
for a Continental Eeceiver to do. The whole business appears 
to be thrown into the hands of the County Treasurers ; nor do 
I find there is any appropriation made of any part of the taxes 
collected, to Continental purposes, or any provision to authorize 
payment to the officer you appoint : this, however, must be 
made. There is only one way in which I can imagine a pros 
pect of being materially useful ; that is, in seconding your appli 
cations to the State. In popular assemblies much may some 
times be brought about by personal discussions, by entering into 
details, and combating objections as they rise. If it should, at 
any time, be thought advisable by you to empower me to act in 
this capacity, I shall be happy to do every thing that depends 
on me to effectuate your views. I flatter myself, to you, sir, I 
need not profess that I suggest this, not from a desire to augment 
the importance of office, but to advance the public interest. 

It is of primary moment to me, as soon as possible to take 
my station in the law ; and on this consideration I am pressing to 
qualify myself for admission the next term, which will be the 
latter end of July. After this, if you think an interview with 
me necessary, I will wait upon you in Philadelphia. In the 
mean time, I shall be happy to receive your instructions, and 


282 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [JE T . 25. 

shall direct my attention more particularly to acquiring what 
ever information may be useful to my future operations. I have 
read your publications at different times, but as I have not the 
papers containing them in my possession, it will be necessary 
that their contents should be comprised in your instructions. A 
meeting of the Legislature is summoned early in the next month, 
at which, if I previously receive your orders, it may be possible 
to put matters in train. 

I am truly indebted to you, sir, for the disposition you have 
manifested upon this occasion ; and I shall only add an assur 
ance of my endeavors to justify your confidence, and prove to 
you the sincerity of that respectful attachment with which 
I am, Sir, 

Your most obedient servant, 

To Kobert Morris, Esq. 


ALBANY, June 22, 1782. 


Mr. Morris having lately offered me the appointment of Ee- 
ceiver of Continental taxes for this State, I wish to collect as 
much and as accurate information as possible of the situation of 
its money concerns. It will be, among other things, of great 
importance that I should form an idea of the money brought 
into the State and carried out of it ; and, with a view to this, I 
take the liberty to request you will furnish me with an estimate 
of what you have reason to think you will lay out in this State 
in the course of a year, in the transactions of your contract busi 
ness. Mr. Duer has been so obliging as to promise me a sketch 
of his disbursements in this quarter, and has informed me that you 
are principally charged with what relates to the supplies of the 
main army as well as West Point ; and will therefore be best 
able to enlighten me on that head. The calculation may not 


admit of absolute precision ; but if it comes near the truth it will 
answer. It would be useful that you could distinguish, as nearly 
as possible, what part will be in specie, what in bank and in other 
notes. As this is a matter that can be attended with no incon 
venience to any person, and will be conducive to the public 
utility, I flatter myself you will favor me with a speedy com 

I am, with esteem, Sir, 

Your most obedient servant, 

To Comfort Sands, Esq. 


PARIS, June 29, 1782. 


How it happens that I still am in Paris, I hardly can myself 
conceive; and what is more surprising, there are two frigates 
going, neither of which will carry your friend to America. 
Don't think, however, dear Hamilton, I am so much altered as 
to be kept here by pleasure or private affairs. But in the 
present circumstances, the American ministers have insisted 
upon my remaining some time longer at this court; where, 
they say, I may render myself more useful to our cause, than 
I can possibly be in America, during an inactive campaign. My 
return, however, is only deferred for a few weeks; and after 
some answers have arrived from England, which, I think, will 
discover the views of, but not yet produce a reconciliation with, 
Great Britain, I intend embarking for Philadelphia, where I 
hope to land in the first days of September. 

This stroke of Count de Grasse has greatly deranged my 
schemes. I hoped for 40 [Charleston] and perhaps for better than 
that; but nothing until 6 [Jamaica] was done. 40 [Charleston] 
I much expected. 9 [the Spaniards] don't like 54 [America']. 
We must previously have 40 [Charleston] ; and then, to put them 

284 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [-fix. 25. 

in good humor, do something about 8 [ West Indies] ; both of 
which are not yet done ; and after that I hope. But at all events, 
this campaign will be very inactive, I think. However, they are 
going to take Gibraltar, and will gather so many means of doing 
of it, that it is said they will succeed. After this trial, the 
forces of the House of Bourbon will be distributed with a better 
scale. 46 [Negotiations] is going on, and 47 [Peace] expected ; 
but not, I think, immediately. You have a good chance, and I 
believe you have time, to be one of the 125 [Commissioners']. 
Jefferson does not come. Mr. Laurens, I am told, intends to 
return home; and I cannot conceive (entre nous) what he is 
about. Mr. Adams thinks his presence is wanting in Holland. 
I thought I had better give you these intelligences. 

Not a word from you since we parted in Virginia ; but I 
am a good-natured man, and will not get tired to speak to a deaf 
man. Adieu. 

Most affectionately, 

Your for ever devoted friend, 

To Lieutenant-Colonel LA FAYETTE. 

Alexander Hamilton. 


OFFICE OF FINANCE, July 2, 1782. 


I yesterday received your letter of the seventeenth of June, 
and am very happy to find you determined to accept the office I 
had the pleasure of offering to you. I inclose the Commission, 
Instructions, etc., together with a Bond for performance of the 
duties, which I must request you to fill up, execute with some 
sufficient security, and transmit. 

The complaint you make of the system of taxation in New- 
York, might, I believe, very justly be extended; for, though it 
may be more defective in some than in others, it is, I fear, very 
far from perfect in any. I had already heard that no part of the 


taxes were appropriated to Continental purposes; but I expect 
that the Legislature will, when they meet, make such appropria 
tion, as well as lay new, and, I hope, productive taxes, for the 
purposes of paying what may remain of their quota. It gives 
me a singular pleasure to find, that you have yourself pointed 
out one of the principal objects of your appointment. You will 
find that it is specified in the inclosure of the fifteenth of April. 
I do not conceive that any interview will be necessary, though I 
shall always be happy to see you, when your leisure and con 
venience will admit. In the mean time, I must request you to 
exert your talents in forwarding with your Legislature, the views 
of Congress. Your former situation in the army, the present 
situation of that very army, your connections in the State, your 
perfect knowledge of men and measures, and the abilities which 
heaven has blessed you with, will give you a fine opportunity to 
forward the public service, by convincing the Legislature of the 
necessity of copious supplies, and by convincing all who have 
claims on the justice of Congress, that those claims exist only 
by that hard necessity which arises from the negligence of the 

When to this, you shall superadd the conviction that what 
remains of the war, being only a war of finance, solid arrange 
ments of finance must necessarily terminate favorably, not only 
to our hopes, but even to our wishes; then, sir, the Govern 
ments will be disposed to lay, and the people to bear, those bur 
thens which are necessary ; and then the utility of your office, 
and of the officer, will be as manifest to others as at present to 

With perfect respect, 

Your most obedient 

And humble servant, 

Alexander Hamilton, Esq., 

Keceiver of Taxes for New- York. 

286 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [jE T . 25. 


ALBANY, July 13, 1782. 


I have this moment received your letter of the second inst., 
and as the post will set out on its return in half an hour, I have 
little more than time to acknowledge the receipt of it. 

I shall, to-morrow morning, commence a journey to Pough- 
keepsie, where the Legislature are assembled; and I will en 
deavor, by every step in my power, to second your views ; 
though, I am sorry to add, without very sanguine expectations. 
I think it probable the Legislature will do something : but what 
ever momentary effort they may make, till the entire change of 
their present system, very little will be done. To effect this, 
mountains of prejudice and particular interest are to be levelled. 
For my own part, considering the late serious misfortune of our 
ally, the spirit of reformation, of wisdom, and of unanimity, 
which seems to have succeeded to that of blunder, perverseness, 
and dissension in the British Government, and the universal re 
luctance of these States to do what is right, I cannot help view 
ing our situation as critical : and I feel it the duty of every 
citizen to exert his faculties to the utmost to support the mea 
sures, especially those solid arrangements of finance on which 
our safety depends. 

I will, by next post, forward you the Bond executed with 
proper sureties. 

It is not in the spirit of compliment, but of sincerity, I 
assure you, that the opinion I entertain of him who presides in 
the department, was not one of the smallest motives to my 
acceptance of the office; nor will that esteem and confidence 
which make me now sensibly feel the obliging expressions of 
your letter, fail to have a great share in influencing my future 

I have the honor to be, 

With perfect esteem and respect, 
Your obedient servant, 


To Kobert Morris, Esq. 



POUGHKEEPSIE, July 16, 1782. 


I have the honor to inclose your Excellency the copy of a 
warrant from the Honorable Eobert Morris, Esq., Superintendent 
of the Finances of the United States ; by which you will perceive 
that, agreeably to the Kesolution of Congress of the second of 
November last, he has appointed me Receiver of the Continental 
taxes for this State. I am therefore to request that the Legis 
lature will be pleased to vest in me the authority required by 
that Kesolution. 

It is a part of my duty to explain to the Legislature, from 
time to time, the views of the Superintendent of Finance, in 
pursuance of the orders of Congress, that they may be the 
better enabled to judge of the measures most proper to be 
adopted for an effectual co-operation. For this purpose, I pray 
your Excellency to impart my request, that I may have the 
honor of a conference with a Committee of the two Houses, at 
such time and place as they may find convenient. 
I have the honor to be, 

With perfect respect and esteem, 
Your Excellency's 

Most obedient servant, 

To his Excellency Governor Clinton. 


POUGHKEEPSIE, May 22, 1782. 


Agreeably to my letter to you from Albany, I came to this 
place, and had an interview with a Committee of the Legisla 
ture, in which I urged the several matters contained in your in- 


structions. I strongly represented the necessity of solid arrange 
ments of finance ; and, by way of argument, pointed out all the 
defects of the present system. I found every man convinced 
that something was wrong, but few that were willing to recognize 
the mischief when defined, and consent to the proper remedy. 
The quantum of taxes already imposed is so great as to make it 
useless to impose any others to a considerable amount. A bill 
has, however, passed both Houses, payable in specie, bank notes, 
or your notes, for eighteen thousand pounds. It is at present 
appropriated to your order ; but I doubt whether some subse 
quent arrangement will not take place for a different appropri 
ation. The Commander-in-Chief has applied for a quantity of 
forage, which the Legislature is devising the means of furnish 
ing ; and I fear it will finish by diverting the eighteen thousand 
pounds to that purpose. I have hitherto been able to prevent 
this ; but as it is of indispensable importance to me to leave this 
place immediately, to prepare for my examination, for which I 
have pledged myself the ensuing term, which is at hand, it is 
possible, after I have left it, contrary ideas will prevail. Efforts 
have been made to introduce a species of negotiable certificates, 
which I have strenuously opposed. It has not yet taken place ; 
but I am not clear how the matter will terminate. 

Should the bill for the eighteen thousand pounds go out in 
its present form, I cannot hope that it will produce in the trea 
sury above half the sum; such are the vices of our present 
mode of collection. 

A bill has also passed the Assembly for collecting arrearages 
of taxes, payable in specie, bank notes, your notes ; old Conti 
nental emissions at one hundred and twenty -eight for one, and a 
species of certificates issued by the State for the purchase of 
horses. This is now before the Senate. The arrearages are 
very large. 

Both Houses have unanimously passed a set of resolutions, 
to be transmitted to Congress and the several States, proposing 
a Convention of the States, to enlarge the powers of Congress 
and vest them with funds. I think this a very eligible step, 
though I doubt of the concurrence of the other States ; but I 


am certain, without it, they never will be brought to co-operate 
in any reasonable or effectual plan. Urge reforms, or exertions, 
and the answer constantly is, What avails it for one State to 
make them without the concert of the others ? It is in vain to 
expose the futility of this reasoning : it is founded in all those 
passions which have the strongest influence on the human mind. 

The Legislature have also appointed, at my instance, a com 
mittee to devise, in its recess, a more effectual system of taxa 
tion, and to communicate with me on this subject. A good deal 
will depend on the success of this attempt. Convinced of the 
absurdity of multiplying taxes in the present mode, where, in 
effect, the payment is voluntary, and the money received ex 
hausted in the collection, I have labored chiefly to instil the 
necessity of a change in the plan ; and, though not so rapidly as 
the exigency of public affairs requires, truth seems to be making 
some progress. 

There is no other appropriation to the use of Congress than 
of the eighteen thousand pounds. 

I shall, as soon as possible, give you a full and just view of 
the situation and temper of this State. This cannot be till after 
my intended examination : that over, I shall lay myself out in 
every way that can promote your views and the public good. 

I am informed you have an appointment to make of a Com 
missioner of Accounts for this State. Permit me to suggest the 
expediency of choosing a citizen of the State ; a man who, to 
the qualifications requisite for the execution of the office, adds 
an influence in its affairs. I need not particularize the reasons 
of this suggestion. In my next I will also take the liberty to 
mention some characters. 

I omitted mentioning that the two Houses have also passed 
a bill, authorizing Congress to adjust the quotas of the States on 
equitable principles, agreeably to your recommendation. 
I have the honor to be, 

With sincere attachment and respect, 
Sir, your most obedient servant, 


To the Hon. Eobert Morris, Esq. 

VOL. i. 19 



ALBANY, August 3, 1782. 


Mr. Morris, some time since, in a circular letter to the States, 
among other things, requested to have an account of all the 
money, provisions, transportations, etc., furnished by this State 
to the United States, since the eighteenth of March, seventeen 
hundred and eighty. 

I have been very happy to hear, that this business has been 
intrusted to your hands : for I am sure, feeling its importance, 
you will give it all the dispatch in your power. 

I have written to the Governor on the subject ; but, lest other 
occupations should delay his attention to it, I must request you 
to inform me, precisely, what part of the matter has been intrust 
ed to your management, and what progress you have been able 
to make. 

I shall also thank you to send me the amount of any certifi 
cates, or paper money in any shape, which, through your office, 
have passed into circulation, distinguishing the different spe 

You will do me a favor by letting me hear from you as soon 
as possible. 

I am, with sincere esteem, 

Your obedient servant, 


P. S. I must still trouble you with an additional request, 
which is, that you let me know, as exactly as possible, the gross 
product of each supply -bill in your department in specie value, 
and the amount of all expenses on each. This I want, with a 
view to the subjects we have been speaking of. 

A. H. 



ALBANY, August 3, 1782. 


I have lately received a letter from the Superintendent of 
Finance, inclosing a copy of a circular letter from him to the 
several States, dated twenty -fifth July, '81, in which he requests 
information on the following important points. 

" What supplies, of every kind, money, provisions, forage, 
transportation, etc., have been furnished by this State to the 
United States, since the eighteenth of March, 1780." 

" The amount of the money in the treasury : the sums ex 
pected to be there ; the times they will probably be brought in ; 
the appropriations." 

" The amount of the different paper currencies in the State ; 
the probable increase, or decrease, of each; and the respective 
rates of depreciation." 

" The Acts passed since the eighteenth of March, 1780, for 
raising taxes, furnishing supplies, etc. ; the manner they have 
been executed ; the time necessary for them to operate ; the 
consequences of their operation ; the policy of the State relative 
to laying, assessing, levying, and collecting taxes." 

In his letter, which is circular, to the Eeceivers, he says ' the 
answers he has received to these inquiries are few and short of 
the object; and he therefore urges me to take the most speedy 
and effectual means, in my power, to enable him to form a 
proper judgment on such of the subjects referred to, as the ac 
tual state of things renders it important to know. 

In compliance with this, I request the favor of your Excel 
lency to inform me, what steps have been taken on the several 
heads of which the above is an abstract : and what progress has 
been made in the business ; particularly with respect to the first 
article. I shall also be much obliged to you to direct Mr. Holt 
to furnish me, without delay, with the Acts mentioned in the 
inclosed list. 

Your Excellency must have been too sensible of the necessity 

292 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [JEi. 25. 

of enabling the Director of the Finances of the United States to 
form a jnst judgment of the true state of our affairs, to have 
omitted any measure in your power to procure the fullest infor 
mation on the several matters submitted to you : and I am per 
suaded the business is in such a train that little will be left for 
me to do. 

I entreat you will do me the honor to let me hear from you 
as soon as possible on the subject. 

It would promote the public business, if you would be so good 
as to direct Mr. Banker to supply me with such information as I 
might call upon him for. He is very obliging, but without some 
authority for the purpose, there is a delicacy in calling upon him. 
I wrote at the same time to Mr. Holt, printer for the State, de 
siring him to forward me the copies of the Acts above mention 
ed ; and telling him, that if the Governor did not make satisfac 
tion, I would do it. These Acts were all those relative to 
finance and supply, from March eighteenth, 1780, to this time. 
With perfect respect, 

I am your Excellency's 

Most obedient servant, 

To His Excellency Governor Clinton. 


ALBANY, August 5th, 1782. 


It will be of great utility to the State, and essential to the ex 
ecution of my instructions from the Superintendent of Finance, 
that I should be able to ascertain, as speedily as possible, the ex 
pense attending the collection of taxes within this State. In 
order to this, I shall be much obliged to you to send me without 
delay an account of what you have received in your county, 
since the beginning of the year '80 to this time, as well for the 

jEi. 25.] CORRESPONDENCE. 293 

taxes laid for county purposes, as for those imposed by the Legis 
lature ; and of the expenses of every kind attending the collec 
tion ; those of the supervisors, assessors, the allowance to the 
collectors and to yourself. 

When I assure you I want this information for an important 
purpose, I doubt not you will forward it to me as speedily as 
it can be prepared, and with as much accuracy as circumstances 
will permit; by doing which, you will serve the public and 

oblige, Sir, 

Your most obedient servant, 


Receiver of C. S. for the State of N. Y. 


August 13, 1782. 


The speculation of evils, from the claims of Great Britain, 
gives way to the pressure of inconveniences actually suffered ; 
and we required the event which has lately happened, the recog 
nition of our independence by the Dutch, to give a new spring 
to the public hopes and the public passions. This has had a 
good effect. And if the Legislature can be brought to adopt a 
wise plan for its finances, we may put the people in better 
humor, and give a more regular and durable movement to the 
machine. The people of this State, as far as my observation 
goes, have as much firmness in their make, and as much submis- 
siveness to Government, as those of any part of the Union. 

It remains for me to give you an explicit opinion of what it 
is practicable for this State to do. Even with a judicious plan 
of taxation, I do not think the State can afford, or the people 
will bear to pay, more than seventy or eighty thousand pounds 
a year. In its entire and flourishing state, according to my 
mode of calculating, it could not have exceeded two hundred 
and thirty or forty thousand pounds ; and, reduced as it is, with 

294 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [^Ex. 25. 

the wheels of circulation so exceedingly clogged for want of com 
merce and a sufficient medium, more than I have said cannot be 
expected. Passed experience will not authorize a more flatter 
ing conclusion. 

Out of this is to be deducted the expense of the interior 
administration of Government, and the money necessary for 
the levies of men. The first amounts to about twelve thou 
sand pounds, as you will perceive by the inclosed statement ; 
but I suppose the Legislature would choose to retain fifteen 
thousand pounds. The money hitherto yearly expended in 
recruits, has amounted to between twenty and thirty thousand 
pounds; but, on a proper plan, ten thousand pounds might 
suffice. There would then remain forty thousand pounds for 
your department. 

But this is on the supposition of a change of system ; for, 
with the present, I doubt there being paid into the Continental 
treasury one-third the sum. 

I am endeavoring to collect materials for greater certainty 
upon this subject; but the business of supplies has been so 
diversified, lodged in such a variety of independent hands, and 
so carelessly transacted, that it is hardly possible to get any 
tolerable idea of the gross and net product. With the help 
of these materials I shall strive to convince the committee, when 
they meet, that a change of measures is essential. If they enter 
cordially into right views, we may succeed : but I confess I fear 
more than I hope. 

I have taken every step in my power to procure the infor 
mation you have desired in your letter of July '81 ; the most 
material part of it, an account of the supplies furnished since 
March seventeen hundred and eighty, has been committed to 
Colonel Hay. I have written to him, in pressing terms, to ac 
celerate the preparation. 

You will perceive, sir, I have neither flattered the State, nor 
encouraged high expectations. I thought it my duty to exhibit 
things as they are, not as they ought to be. I shall be sorry if 
it give an ill opinion of the State, for want of equal candor in 
the representation of others ; for, however disagreeable the reflec- 


tion, I have too much reason to believe, that the true picture of 
other States would be, in proportion to their circumstances, 
equally unpromising. All my inquiries, and all that appears, 
induces this opinion. I intend this letter in confidence to your 
self, and therefore I endorse it private. 

Before I conclude, I will say a word on a point that possibly 
you would wish to be informed about. The contract up this 
way is executed generously to the satisfaction of officers and 
soldiers ; which is the more meritorious in the contractor, as, in 
all probability, it will be to him a losing undertaking. 
I have the honor to be, 

With sentiments of unfeigned respect, 
Sir, your most ob't and humble serv't, 

To the Hon. Kobert Morris, Esq. 


POUGHKEEPSIE, August 13, 1782. 


I have received your letter of the third instant. I am not 
authorized to direct the printer to deliver any of the laws, ex 
cept a certain number of sets which are by law directed for par 
ticular purposes. I have, however, mentioned your desire to 
the gentlemen of the committee appointed to superintend the 
printing and distribution of them, and requested them to furnish 
you with a set, which I doubt not will be complied with. 

Some short time before the appointment of a Superintendent 
of Finance, I transmitted to Congress the most perfect informa 
tion I was able to collect, of many of the matters mentioned in 
your letter ; and it was my intention, from time to time, to have 
continued these communications to Mr. Morris ; but our laws 
remaining so long unprinted, the dispersed situation of the dif 
ferent public officers, and the difficulty, from this circumstance, 
as well as the want of authority, in some instances, to command 

296 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [^Ei. 25. 

the necessary returns, rendered it a business, if not impracticable, 
requiring more time and attention than the indispensable duties 
of my office afforded leisure to bestow. I shall, however, be happy 
to give you every aid in my power to facilitate it. The laws, 
with the returns which have lately been made by the different 
public officers, and may be found on the files of the Legislature, 
and in the treasurer's office, will answer most of the questions 
stated. The answers to the others, appear to me to depend, 
in some measure, on matter of opinion ; and, as the operation 
of our laws is often obstructed, and the intended consequences 
defeated, by unforeseen events arising from our embarrassed 
situation, they cannot be given with any great degree of pre 

You will readily perceive, sir, that the treasurer, from the 
nature of his office, is not, except in cases provided for by law, 
subject to my control. I am persuaded, however, that he, as well 
as the clerks of the Legislature, will readily give you every infor 
mation and assistance consistent with the duties of their respec 
tive offices. 

I am, with great respect and esteem, 

Sir, your most obedient servant, 

To Col. Alexander Hamilton. 


NEW- WINDSOR, August 20, 1782. 


I have some Bills of Exchange, drawn by Mr. Morris on 
John Swanwick, which I am authorized to exchange with the 
receivers of the Continental Taxes in any of the States eastward of 
Pennsylvania. Mr. Morris informed me, that he had advised 
the Keceivers of this measure, and directed their taking up the 
bills whenever they were in cash. By taxes or by loan, I ex 
pect this State will shortly furnish you with money. I am 


indebted to the subjects of it by many special engagements, 
which I am anxious to fulfil. You will therefore greatly oblige 
me, by giving me, from time to time, information of the money 
you shall receive ; and in order to secure the earliest supply, I 
would lodge, if you please, some of the bills in your hands. 
Bank notes or Mr. Morris's notes will be useful to me, though 
not so beneficial as cash. 

I am, dear Sir, 

With respect and esteem, 

Your most obedient servant, 



Col. Alex. Hamilton. 


ALBANY, August 25, 1782. 


This letter serves only to transmit the two last papers. I 
wish the measures I have taken to satisfy you on the points you 
desire to be informed of, had been attended with so much suc 
cess as to enable me now to transmit the result. But I find a 
singular confusion in the accounts kept by the public officers 
from whom I must necessarily derive my information, and a 
singular dilatoriness in complying with my application, partly 
from indolence, and partly from jealousy of the office. I hope, 
by the next post, to transmit you information on some par 

I have the honor to be, Sir, 

Your most obedient servant, 

To Eobert Morris, Esq. 



ALBANY, August 27, 1782. 

I thank you, my dear Meade, for your letter of the first of 
this month, which you will perceive has travelled much faster 
than has been usual with our letters. Our correspondence, 
hitherto, has been unfortunate; nor, in fact, can either of us 
compliment himself on his punctuality ; but you were right in 
concluding, that however indolence, or accident, may interrupt 
our intercourse, nothing will interrupt our friendship. Mine for 
you is built on the solid basis of a full conviction that you de 
serve it, and that it is reciprocal ; and it is the more firmly fixed 
because you have few competitors. Experience is a continual 
comment on the worthlessness of the human race ; and the few 
exceptions we find have the greater right to be valued in pro 
portion as they are rare. I know few men estimable, fewer 
amiable ; and when I meet with one of the last description, it is 
not in my power to withhold my affection. 

As to myself, I shall sit down in New- York when it opens ; 
and this period, we are told, approaches. No man looks forward 
to a peace with more pleasure than I do ; though no man would 
sacrifice less to it than myself, if I were not convinced the people 
sigh for peace. 

I have been studying the law for some months, and have 
lately been licensed as an attorney. I wish to prepare myself by 
October for examination as a counsellor ; but some public avo 
cation may possibly prevent me. 

I had almost forgotten to tell you, that I have been pretty 
unanimously elected, by the Legislature of this State, a member 
of Congress, to begin to serve in November. I do not hope to 
reform the State, although I shall endeavor to do all the good I 

God bless you. 

To Colonel Meade. 



OFFICE OF FINANCE, August 28, 1782. 


I have duly received your several favors of the twenty-second 
and twenty -seventh of July, and tenth and thirteenth of August. 
My not answering them is owing to causes which you will easily 
conceive, because you will easily conceive the multiplicity of ob 
jects to which I must turn my attention. I am very sorry to 
learn that you can no longer continue in the office of Receiver. 
It would have given me great pleasure that you should have 
done so, because I am sure that you would have rendered very 
signal service to the public cause : this you will now do in an 
other line, more important, as it is more extensive : and the just 
ness of your sentiments on public affairs, induces my warm wish, 
that you may find a place in Congress so agreeable as that you 
may be induced to continue in it. 

I should readily have complied with your wish, as to a suc 
cessor, but there are many reasons which have called my atten 
tion to, and fixed my choice upon, Doctor Tillotson. We will 
converse on this subject when we meet. I am, however, very 
far from being unmindful of your recommendations ; and al 
though I cannot name the citizen of any State to settle the ac 
counts of that particular State, consistently with the general line 
of conduct I have laid down for myself, yet I shall do, in other 
respects, what is in my power. I have not hitherto been able to 
fix on a proper Commissioner for the State of New- York. The 
office is vacant for New Hampshire and Rhode Island. I inclose 
you a copy of the Ordinance on the subject, that you may know 
the powers, duties, and emoluments ; and I have to request that 
you offer these places to Colonel Malcolm and Mr. Lawrence. 
You will make the first offer, including the choice, as your own 
judgment may direct. Should the gentlemen, or either of them, 
accept, you will be so kind as to give me early notice. I will 
then immediately recommend them to the States respectively ; 

300 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [^T. 25. 

and on receiving their approbation, the proper instructions, etc., 
can be expedited. 

I am sorry to learn that any letter of mine should have given 
offence ; but I conclude that this effect must follow from many 
parts of my writings and conduct ; because the steady pursuit 
of what appears to be the true line of duty, will necessarily 
cross the various oblique views of interest and opinion. To of 
fend is sometimes a fault, always a misfortune. The letter in 
question is, I suppose, under the date of the eleventh of Decem 
ber, of which I inclose you a copy. Let me, at the same time, 
assure you, that in all your excellent letter of the thirteenth in 
stant, I most esteem the clause now in question ; because it con 
tains that useful information which is least common. I will 
make no apologies for the letter to any one, because apologies 
are rarely useful ; and where the intention has been good, they 
are, to candid minds, unnecessary. Possessed of the facts, you 
can guard against misrepresentation ; and I have ever found that 
to be the most hostile weapon which either my personal or 
political enemies have been able to wield against me. 

I have not, even yet, seen the Kesolutions of your Legislature 
relative to an extension of the powers of Congress. I had 
supposed the same reason for them which you have expressed. 
Indeed, power is generally such a darling object with weak 
minds, that they must feel extreme reluctance to bid it farewell ; 
neither do I believe that any thing will induce a general consent 
to part with it, but a perfect sense of absolute necessity. This 
may arise from two sources ; the one of reason, and the other of 
feeling : the former more safe and more uncertain ; the latter 
always severe and often dangerous. It is, my dear sir, in cir 
cumstances like this, that a patriot mind, seeking the great good 
of the whole, on enlightened principles, can best be distinguished 
from those vulgar souls whose narrow optics can see but the 
little circle of selfish concerns. Unhappily, such souls are but 
too common, and but too often fill the seats of dignity and 
authority. A firm, wise, manly system of federal government is 
what I once wished, what I now hope, what I dare not expect, 
but what I will not despair of. 


Your description of the mode of collecting taxes, contains 
an epitome of the follies which prevail from one end of the con 
tinent to the other. There is no end to the absurdity of human 
nature. Mankind seem to delight in contrast and paradox ; for 
surely nothing else could sanctify (during a contest on the 
precise point of being taxed by our own consent) the arbitrary 
policy which, on this subject, almost universally prevails. God 
grant you success in your views to amend it. Your ideas on the 
subject are perfectly correspondent to my own. As to your 
doubt on the mode of collecting it, I would wish to obviate it 
by the observation, that the farther off we can remove the 
appointment of Collectors from popular influence, the more 
effectual will be their operations; and the more they conform 
to the views of Congress, the more effectually will they enable 
that body to provide for general defence. In political life, the 
creature will generally pay some deference to both. The having 
a double set of officers is indeed an evil ; but a good thing is 
not always to be rejected because of that necessary portion of 
evil which, in the course of things, must be attached to it. 
Neither is this a necessary evil ; for, with a proper Federal 
Government, Army, Navy, and Eevenue, the Civil Adminis 
tration might well be provided for by a Stamp Act, Eoads by 
Turnpikes, and Navigations by Tolls. 

The account you give of the State is by no means flattering : 
and the more true it appears, the more concern it gives me. 
The loan, I hope, will be completed ; and I wish the whole 
amount of the tax may be collected. The Forage plan I have 
disagreed to ; and inclose, for your information, the copy of my 
letter, on that subject, to the Quartermaster General. I believe 
your State is exhausted : but perhaps even you consider it as being 
more so than it is. The Certificates, which now form a useless 
load, will (if the United States adopt, and the several States 
agree to, a plan now before Congress) become valuable property. 
This will afford great relief. The scarcity of money, also, may 
be immediately relieved, if the love of popular favor would 
so far give way to the love of public good, as to enforce plentiful 
taxation. The necessity of having money will always produce 


money. The desire of having it, produces, you see, so much as 
is necessary to gratify the desire of enjoying foreign luxuries. 
Turn the stream, which now flows in the channels of Commerce, 
to those of Kevenue, and the business is completed. Unfor 
tunately for us, this is an operation which requires fortitude, 
perseverance, virtue ; and which cannot be effected by the weak 
or wicked minds who have only partial, private, or interested 

When I consider the exertions which the country you possess 
has already made, under striking disadvantages, and with aston 
ishing prodigality of national wealth, by pernicious modes of 
applying it ; I persuade myself, that regular, consistent efforts, 
would produce much more than you suppose. 

* * # * * # # 

I am, with perfect respect, 
Your most obedient 

And humble servant, 

To Alexander Hamilton, Esq. 


ALBANY, August 31, 1782. 


I send you herewith all the acts of the Legislature of this 
State since the Government has been organized ; on the margin 
of which I have numbered all the acts relative to the matters 
you mention in your letter of July, '81, to the States agreeable to 
the within list. I inclose you the papers of the last week. 

The indolence of some, and the repugnancy of others, make 
every trifle lag so much in the execution, that I am not able at 
this time to give you any further information. I wish to hear 


from you on the subject of my former letters previous to the 
meeting of the Committee the 15th of the ensuing month. 
I have the honor to be very truly, 

Sir, your most obedient servant, 

A. H. 
To the Honorable Superintendent of Finance. 


POUGHKEEPSIE, September 2, 1782. 


I am favored with your letter of the 25th instant, previous 
to which, with a view of accelerating the collection of the last 
Tax, I had prepared, and have since dispatched a circular letter 
to the several County Treasurers, urging them and the other 
officers concerned, to a prompt execution of their duty, or that 
in case of neglect the penalty of the law will without favor be 
put into execution. 

I have not received information from all the Counties, but in 
this and some others, I know the business is in good train, and 
am led to hope that the taxes will be speedily collected and 
paid in. 

My agents employed to procure moneys on loan had some 
time since transmitted me a small sum, but not sufficient to 
answer the orders of the Legislature in favor of the Delegates 
and some other public matters. As the channel through which 
this money is procured is subject to interruption and disappoint 
ment, I cannot at present inform you of any sum to be depended 
on, but I expect soon to see or hear from the gentlemen, and 
you may rest assured of being informed of the result without 

I am, with great respect and esteem, 
Sir, your most obedient servant, 


Col. Hamilton. 

304 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [Ah. 25. 


ALBANY, September 7, 1782. 


The fifteenth, of this month is the period fixed for the pay 
ment of the tax imposed at the last meeting of the Legislature 
for the use of the United States. The public exigencies, and 
the reputation of the State, require that every exertion should 
be made to collect this tax with punctuality and dispatch ; and 
it is, therefore, my duty to urge you, that you employ the 
powers vested in you, and all your personal influence, to induce 
the collectors to expedite the collection with all the zeal and 
vigor in their power. While the other States are all doing 
something, as a citizen of this, I shall feel a sensible mortifica 
tion in being obliged to continue publishing to the others, that 
this State pays nothing in support of the war, as I have been 
under the necessity of doing the last two months. Besides this, 
and other still more weighty considerations, a regard to the 
subjects of the State itself demands every exertion in our power. 
They have parted with their property on the public faith, and it 
is impossible for the public to fulfil its engagements to individ 
uals, unless it is enabled to do it by the equal and just contri 
butions of the community at large. 

I am, Sir, 
Your most obedient servant, 



ALBANY, September 7, 1782. 


I have had the inclosed ready for some time ; but in hopes 
of receiving the returns of the certificates mentioned in memo 
randum B, I delayed sending the present sketch. Having even 
received no answers from some of the parties, who live at a 


distance from me, I suspect they have done their business in so 
disorderly a manner (to say nothing worse of it) that they are at 
a loss how to render the accounts ; and I have, therefore, con 
cluded not to detain any longer what I have procured. 

I do not take the step mentioned in memorandum A, be 
cause I doubted its propriety. It might raise expectations about 
the old money, which, possibly, it may not enter into your plans 
to raise : and, besides this, by knowing what has been called in, 
in each State (which from the sketch I send you, will appear as 
to this), you can determine the balance of emissions remaining 
out, except what may have worn out and been accidentally des 
troyed. If you desire this step to be taken, I will obey your 

I have said nothing of the rates of depreciation, because I 
imagine your letter, written in July, '80, had reference to the 
rates at which the money was then actually circulating, and the 
circulation has now totally ceased. The laws I sent you by the 
last post, will inform you of the rates fixed at different periods 
by the Legislature : forty, seventy -five, and lastly, one hundred 
and twenty-eight. I am obliged to infer there is a studied back 
wardness in the officers of the State, who ought to give me the 
information you require respecting the supplies of different kinds 
which have been furnished to the use of the United States. 
Indeed, I find, on inquiry, that their joint information will not 
be so full as to satisfy your intentions ; and that this cannot be 
done till you have appointed a commissioner of accounts, autho 
rized to enter into all the details, aided by some legislative 
arrangement which may be obtained the next session. 
I have the honor to be, 

With great respect and esteem, 

Sir, your most obedient servant, 


To Kobert Morris, Esq. 

VOL. i. 20 

306 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [-fix. 25. 


ALBANY, September 7, 1782. 


I this day received your letter of the 20th August. Mr. 
Morris has advised me of the bills you describe, and directed my 
purchasing them, together with his notes, and the bank notes ; 
with what money shall come into my hands on public account. 
They are now beginning to collect the tax imposed for the use 
of the United States, though I can as yet form no judgment with 
what success or expedition. I shall with pleasure give you the 
information you ask, but I would rather wish to be excused from 
anticipation by previous deposits in my hands, as that will in 
some measure pledge me to give a preference to the bills de 
posited, and may hereafter expose me to a charge of partiality. 
There have been several applications to me for a similar antici 
pation which I have avoided ; reserving to myself the power of 
paying the bills as they shall be presented, and in proportion to 
the nearness or remoteness of the periods of payments. 

You may, however, depend that I shall be happy to assist 
your department, and will keep in view your present request. 
I hope, towards the latter end of the month, I shall receive 
something considerable on the late tax. 

I am, dear Sir, very truly, 

Your obedient servant, 

To Timothy Pickering, 

D. Q. Gen. 


ALBANY, Sept. 14, 1782. 


I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of 
the 29th of August, the contents of which shall be executed. 

I have just received by the post accounts of the specific sup- 


plies furnished by the State ; copies of which I shall prepare to 
be transmitted to you by the next post, as I am to return the 
originals, which are for the inspection of the Legislature. I 
hope to add to these accounts of the moneys supplied. 

I have written to you a number of letters since my journey 
to Poughkeepsie, of which, as they contain some things of a 
confidential nature, I am not without anxiety to learn the safe 

I should also have been happy to have received your instruc 
tions against the meeting of the Committee, which is to take 
place to-morrow. As they will have other business, if I hear 
from you by the next post, I shall not be too late. I am at a 
loss to know whether I ought to press the establishment of per 
manent funds or not ; though unless I receive your instructions, 
following my own apprehensions of what are probably your 
views, I shall dwell on this article. 

I have the honor to be, 

With perfect respect, 

Sir, your most ob't serv't, 


I inclose you a copy of a letter of the Governor, of the 2d 
inst., from which you will see his hopes. Mine are not so good. 
In this vicinity, always delinquent, little is doing. 


ALBANY, Sept. 21, 1782. 


The hurry in which I wrote to you by the last post, pre 
vented my examining particularly the papers which I informed 
you I had received. On a more careful inspection of them, I 
found them not so complete as I had hoped. There is a general 
state of specific supplies ; but the returns referred to in that for 
the particulars, were by some mistake omitted. I have written 


for them, but they have not yet arrived ; when they do, I shall 
lose no time in forwarding them. 

I observe there is nothing respecting transportation; and 
there is a part of the supplies for the period before Col. Hay 
came into office, which is estimated on a scale of proportion too 
vague a method to be satisfactory. I have urged him to send 
me an account of the transportation, and to collect, as speedily 
as possible, official returns of the supplies above mentioned. 

There is a practice obtaining which appears to me to contra 
vene your views. The Contractors, I am informed, have gotten 
into a method of carrying your bills immediately to the Collectors 
and drawing the specie out of their hands, by which means the 
paper never goes into circulation at all ; but passes, so to speak, 
immediately out of one hand of the public into the other. The 
people, therefore, can never be familiarized to the paper, nor can 
it ever obtain a general currency. 

If the specie were to come into the Keceivers' hands, and the 
Contractors were left under a necessity of exerting their influence 
to induce the inhabitants to take your notes, to be afterwards 
redeemed by the Keceivers agreeably to your plan, this would 
gradually accustom the people to place confidence in the notes ; 
and though the circulation at first should be momentary, it might 
come to be more permanent. 

I am in doubt, whether on the mere speculation of an evil, 
without your instructions, I ought to take any step to prevent 
this practice. For, should I forbid the exchange, it might pos 
sibly cause a suspicion that there was a preference of the paper 
to the specie, which might injure its credit. 

I have thought of a method to prevent, without forbidding it 
in direct terms. This was to require each collector to return the 
names of the persons from whom he received taxes, and in 
different columns, specify the kind of money, whether specie, 
your notes, or bank notes, in which the tax was paid ; giving 
the inhabitants receipts accordingly ; and paying in money in 
the same species in which it was received. This would cover 
the object. 

I have tried to prevail upon the county treasurer of this 


place, to instruct the collectors accordingly ; but the great aim 
of all these people is to avoid trouble ; and he affected to con 
sider the matter as a Herculean labor. Nor will it be done 
without a legislative injunction. 

A method of this kind would tend much to check fraud in 
the collectors ; and would have many good consequences. 

I thought it my duty, at any rate, to apprise you of the 
practice, that, if my apprehensions are right, it may not be con 
tinued without control. I have reason to believe it is very ex 
tensive by no means confined to this State. 

Permit me to make one more observation. Your notes, 
though in credit with the merchants by way of remittance, do 
not enter far into ordinary circulation, and this principally on 
account of their size ; which even makes them inconvenient for 
paying taxes. The taxes of very few amount to twenty dollars 
a single tax ; and though the farmers might combine to sell their 
produce for the notes, to pay the taxes jointly ; yet this is not 
always convenient, and will seldom be practised. If the notes 
were, in considerable part, of five, eight, or ten dollars, their cir 
culation would be far more general ; the merchants would, even 
in their retail operations, give specie in exchange for balances ; 
which few of them care to do, or can do, with the larger notes ; 
though they are willing to take them for their goods. 



September 28, 1782. 


I have been honored this week with your letters of the 
twenty-eighth of August, and the sixth, twelfth, and seventeenth 
instant, with their inclosures. 

It gives me the most real pleasure to find that my past com 
munications have met with your approbation ; and I feel a par 
ticular satisfaction in the friendly confidence which your letters 


I am persuaded that substantial reasons have determined 
your choice in a particular instance to Doctor Tillotson ; and I 
am flattered by the attention you have obligingly paid to my 
recommendations of Colonel Malcolm and Mr. Lawrence. Those 
gentlemen are now here. They make you the warmest acknow 
ledgments for your offer, but decline leaving the State ; which, 
indeed, is not compatible with the present prospects of either of 

I am glad to have had an opportunity of perusing your letter 
to this State, at which so much exception has been taken ; be 
cause it has confirmed me in what I presumed, that there has 
been much unjustifiable ill-humor upon the occasion. I will 
make use of the knowledge I have to combat misrepresentation. 

Yours of the twenty -ninth of July to Congress, is full of 
principles and arguments as luminous as they are conclusive. It 
is to be lamented that they have not had more weight than we 
are to infer from the momentary expedient adopted by the reso 
lutions of the fourth and tenth ; which will, alone, not be satis 
factory to the public creditors; and I fear will only tend to 
embarrass your present operations, without answering the end in 
view. The more I see, the more I find reason for those who 
love this country to weep over its blindness. 

The committee on the subject of taxation are met. Some 
have their plans ; and they must protect their own children, 
however misshapen : others have none ; but are determined to 
find fault with all. I expect little, but I shall promote any thing, 
though imperfect, that will mend our situation. 
With sentiments of 

The greatest respect and esteem, 
I have the honor to be, Sir, 
Your most obedient servant, 


P. S. The public creditors in this quarter, have had a meet 
ing, and appointed a committee to devise measures. The com 
mittee will report petitions to Congress and the Legislature ; and 
an address to the public creditors in other parts of the State, to 


appoint persons to meet in convention, to unite in some common 
measure. I believe they will also propose a general convention 
of all the creditors in the different States. 

A. H. 
To the Hon. Eobert Morris, Esq. 


ALBANY, Oct. 5, 1782. 


In my last I informed you, that the committee, appointed by 
the Legislature on the subject of taxation, were together. In 
spite of my efforts, they have parted without doing any thing 
decisive. They have, indeed, agreed upon several matters, and 
those of importance ; but they have not reduced them to the 
form of a report ; which, in fact, leaves every thing afloat, to be 
governed by the impressions of the moment, when the Legisla 
ture meets. 

The points agreed upon, are these : That there shall be an 
actual valuation of land, and a tax of so much in the pound. 

The great diversity in the qualities of land would not suffer 
them to listen to an estimated valuation, or to a tax by the 
quantity, agreeably to the idea in your late report to Congress. 
That there shall be also a tariff of all personal property, to be 
also taxed at so much in the pound ; that there shall be a specific 
tax on carriages, clocks, watches, and other similar articles of 
luxury ; that money, at usury, shall be taxed at a fixed rate in 
the pound, excluding that which is loaned to the public ; that 
houses, in all towns, shall be taxed at a certain proportion of the 
annual rent ; that there shall be a poll tax on all single men 
from fifteen upwards ; and that the collection of the taxes should 
be advertised to the lowest bidder, at a fixed rate per cent., 
bearing all subordinate expenses. 

Among other things which were rejected, I pressed hard for 


an excise on distilled liquors ; but all that could be carried on 
this article was a license on taverns. 

The committee were pretty generally of opinion, that the 
system of funding for payment of old debts, and for procuring 
further credit, was wise and indispensable ; but a majority 
thought it would be unwise in one State to contribute in this 
way alone. 

Nothing was decided on the quantum of taxes which the 
State was able to pay : those who went furthest, did not exceed 
seventy thousand pounds, of which fifty for the use of the 
United States. 

I send you my cash account, which is for what has been 
received in this county. "We have not heard from the others. 
I have the honor to be, Sir, 
Your most obedient servant, 

To the Hon. Kobert Morris, Esq. 


OFFICE OF FINANCE, October 5, 1782. 


I have now before me your letters of the fourteenth and 
twenty -first of last month. I am sorry to find that you are less 
sanguine in your pecuniary expectations than the Governor 
appears to be ; for I have always found that the worst forebod 
ings on this subject are the truest. You will find, at the bottom 
of this letter, a list of all those which I have hitherto received 
from you. I think they have all been already acknowledged ; 
but lest they should not, you will see in one moment, by the list, 
whether any have miscarried. 

I am not surprised to find that the contractors apply with 
their paper, in the first instance, to the Eeceivers and Collectors. 
This I expected, because much of that paper is not fit for other 
purposes. Some of it, however, which is payable to the bearer, 


is calculated for circulation ; which you observe is not so general 
as otherwise it might have been, by reason of the largeness of 
the sums expressed in the notes. Mr. Duer's letters contain the 
same sentiment. 

In issuing this paper, one principal view was to facilitate the 
payment of taxes by obviating the too general (though unjust) 
complaint of the want of a circulating medium. In substituting 
paper to specie, the first obstacle to be encountered, was the total 
diffidence which had arisen from the late profusion of it. Had 
a considerable quantity been thrown into the hands of that class 
of the people, whose ideas on the subject of money, are more the 
offspring of habit than of reason, it must have depreciated. That 
this apprehension was just, is clear from this fact, that the paper 
I first issued, and the Bank paper which came out after it, did 
depreciate from ten to fifteen per cent, in the Eastern States, not 
withstanding all the precautions which were used. If I had not 
taken immediate measures to create a demand for it on the spot, 
and to stop issues to that quarter, its credit would have been 
totally lost for a time, and not easily restored. Besides that, the 
quantities which were pouring in from thence would have done 
mischief here. Confidence is a plant of very slow growth ; and 
our political situation is not too favorable to it. I am, therefore, 
very unwilling to hazard the germ of a credit, which will, in its 
greater maturity, become very useful. If my notes circulate 
only among mercantile people, I do not regret it, but rather wish 
that the circulation may, for the present, be confined to them, 
and to the wealthier members of other professions. It is nothing 
but the greater convenience, which will induce people to prefer 
any kind of paper to the precious metals ; and this convenience 
is principally felt in large sums. Whenever the shopkeepers, in 
general, discover that my paper will answer as a remittance to 
the principal ports, and will be readily exchanged by the Ke- 
ceivers, they will as readily exchange it for other people. When 
the people, in general, find that the shopkeepers receive it freely, 
they will begin to look after it, and not before. For you must 
know, that whatever fine plausible speeches may be made on 
this subject, the farmers will not give full credit to money, 

314 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [JE T . 25. 

merely because it will pay taxes: for that is an object they are 
not very violently devoted to. But that money which goes 
freely at the store and the tavern, will be sought after as greedily 
as those things which the store and the tavern contain. Still, 
however, your objection remains good ; that the tramckings in 
which the greater part of the community engage, do not require 
sums so large as twenty dollars. This I shall readily acknow 
ledge : but you will observe there is infinitely less danger that 
large notes, which go only through the hands of intelligent 
people, will be counterfeited than small ones, which come to 
the possession .of illiterate men. When public credit *is firmly 
established, the little shocks it receives from the counterfeiters 
of paper money, do not lead to material consequences ; but, in 
the present ticklish state of things, there is just ground of appre 
hension. Besides this, the value of paper will depend much 
upon the interchanges of it for specie : and these will not take 
place when there is a circulation of small paper. Lastly, I have 
to observe, that until more reliance can be placed on the 
revenues required, I dare not issue any very considerable 
amount of this paper, lest I should be run upon for more than 
I could answer: and as the circulation of what I dare issue, by 
increasing the general mass, enables people (so far as it goes) 
more easily to get hold of other money, it consequently pro 
duces, in its degree, that object of facilitating taxation which I 
had in view. 

I am, Sir, 

Your most obedient, humble servant, 

Alexander Hamilton, Esq., 

Eeceiver for New- York. 



Esteem for your talents and acquirements is a sentiment 
which, from my earliest acquaintance with you, my dear Vis 
count, I have shared in common with all those who have the 


happiness of knowing you; but a better knowledge of your 
character has given it, in my eyes, a more intrinsic merit, and 
has attached me to you by a friendship founded upon qualities 
as rare as they are estimable. Averse as I am to professions, I 
cannot forbear indulging this declaration, to express to you the 
pleasure I felt at receiving (after an inexplicable delay) the letter 
you were so obliging as to write me before your departure from 
Boston. It was of that kind which is always produced by those 
attentions of friends we value ; which, not being invited by cir 
cumstances, nor necessitated by the forms of society, bespeak 
the warmth of the heart. At least my partiality for you makes 
me fond of viewing it in this light, and I cherish the opinion. 

I was chagrined to find that you left us with an intention not 
to return. Though I should be happy if, by a removal of the 
war, this country should cease to be a proper theatre for your 
exertions, yet, if it continues to be so, I hope you will find 
sufficient motives to engage you to change your resolution. 
Wherever you are, you will be useful and distinguished; but 
the ardent desire I have of meeting you again, makes me wish 
America may be your destination. I would willingly do it in 
France, as you invite me to do; but the prospect of this is 
remote. I must make a more solid establishment here before I 
can conveniently go abroad. There is no country I have a 
greater curiosity to see, or which I am persuaded would be so 
interesting to me as yours. I should be happy to renew and 
improve the valuable acquaintances from thence, which this war 
has given me an opportunity of making ; and, though I could 
not flatter myself with deriving any advantage from it, I am 
persuaded it is there I should meet with the greatest number of 
those you describe, who, etc. : but considerations of primary 
importance will oblige me to submit to the mortification of de 
ferring my visit. 

In the mean time I should be too much the gainer by com 
munication with you, not gladly to embrace the offer you so 
politely make for writing to each other. 

The period, since you left us, has been too barren of events 
to enable me to impart any thing worth attention. The enemy 


continue in possession of Charleston and Savannah, and leave 
us masters of the rest of the country. General Greene has de 
tached Wayne to Georgia ; but I believe his views do not extend 
beyond the mere possession of the country. It is said the As 
semblies of the two invaded States are about meeting, to restore 
the administration of government. This will be a step to 
strengthening the hands of General Greene, and counteracting 
the future intrigues of the enemy. Many are sanguine in be 
lieving that all the southern posts will be evacuated, and that a 
fleet of transports is actually gone to bring the garrisons away. 
For my part, I have doubts upon the subject. My politics are, 
that while the present ministry can maintain their seats, and 
procure supplies, they will prosecute the war on the mere chance 
of events ; and that while this is the plan, they will not evacuate 
posts so essential as points of departure ; from whence, on any 
favorable turn of affairs, to renew their attack on our most 
vulnerable side. JSTor will they relinquish objects that would be 
so useful to them, should the worst happen in a final negotia 
tion. Clinton, it is said, is cutting a canal across New- York 
island, through the low grounds, about a mile and a half from 
the city. This will be an additional obstacle ; but if we have, 
otherwise, the necessary means to operate, it will not be an in 
surmountable one. I do not hear that he is constructing any 
other new works of consequence. To you, who are so thoroughly 
acquainted with the military posture of things in this country, I 
need not say that the activity of the next campaign must abso 
lutely depend on effectual succors from France. I am convinced 
we shall have a powerful advocate in you. La Fayette, we 
know, will bring * the whole house ' with him if he can. 

There has been no material change in our internal situation 
since you left us. The capital successes we have had, have 
served rather to increase the hopes than the exertions of the 
particular States. But in one respect we are in a mending way. 
Our financier has hitherto conducted himself with great ability, 
has acquired an entire personal confidence; revived, in some 
measure, the public credit ; and is conciliating fast the support 
of the moneyed men. His operations have hitherto hinged 


chiefly on the seasonable aids from your country; but he is 
urging the establishment of permanent funds among ourselves: 
and though, from the nature and temper of our governments, 
his applications will meet with a dilatory compliance, it is to be 
hoped they will by degrees succeed. 

The institution of a Bank has been very serviceable to him : 
the commercial interest, finding great advantages in it, and an 
ticipating much greater, is disposed to promote the plan; and 
nothing but moderate funds, permanently pledged for the secu 
rity of lenders, is wanting to make it an engine of the most ex 
tensive and solid utility. By the last advices there is reason to 
believe the delinquent States will shortly comply with the requi 
sition of Congress for a duty on our imports. This will be a 
great resource to Mr. Morris ; but it will not alone be sufficient. 

Upon the whole, however, if the war continues another year, 
it will be necessary that Congress should again recur to the gen 
erosity of France for pecuniary assistance. The plans of the 
financier cannot be so matured as to enable us, by any possi 
bility, to dispense with this ; and if he should fail for want of 
support, we must replunge into that confusion and distress which 
had like to have proved fatal to us, and out of which we are 
slowly emerging. The cure, on a relapse, would be infinitely 
more difficult than ever. 

I have given you an uninteresting but a faithful sketch of 
our situation. You may expect, from time to time, to receive 
from me the progress of our affairs ; and I know you will over 
pay me. 

I am, my dear Viscount, 

Yours faithfully, 


To the Yiscount De Noailles. 



ALBANY, October 12, 1782. 


It is an age since I have either written to you or received a 
line from you ; yet I persuade myself you have not been the 
less convinced of my affectionate attachment, and warm partici 
pation in all those events which have given you that place in 
your country's esteem and approbation which I have known you 
to deserve, while your enemies and rivals were most active in 
sullying your reputation. 

You will perhaps learn, before this reaches you, that I have 
been appointed a Member of Congress. I expect to go to Phila 
delphia in the ensuing month, where I shall be happy to corres 
pond with you with our ancient confidence ; and I shall entreat 
you not to confine your observations to military subjects, but to 
take in the whole scope of national concerns. I am sure your 
ideas will be useful to me and to the public. 

I feel the deepest affliction at the news we have just received 
of the loss of our dear and estimable friend Laurens. His 
career of virtue is at an end. How strangely are human affairs 
conducted, that so many excellent qualities could not insure a 
more happy fate ! The world will feel the loss of a man who 
has left few like him behind, and America of a citizen whose 
heart realized that patriotism of which others only talk. I shall 
feel the loss of a friend I truly and most tenderly loved, and one 

of a very small number. 

* -x- * * * * * 

I am, dear Sir, 

Truly your friend and servant, 

To General Greene. 



ALBANY, October 26, 1782. 


I am honored with your letters of the 5th, 15th, and 16th 

The detail you have been pleased to enter into in that of the 
15th, exhibits very cogent reasons for confining yourself to 
pretty large denominations of notes ; some of them had occurred 
to me, others had not ; but I thought it my duty to state to you 
the operation which that circumstance had ; as in the midst of 
the variety and extent of the objects which occupy your atten 
tion, you may not have so good opportunities of seeing the 
effect of your plans in detail. While I acknowledge that your 
observations have corrected my ideas upon the subject, and 
shown me that there would be danger in generally lessening the 
denominations of the paper issued, I should be uncandid not to 
add, that it still appears to me, there would be a preponderance 
of advantages in having a part of a smaller amount. I shall 
not trouble you at present with any further reasons for this 

I have immediately on the receipt of your letter taken mea 
sures for the publication of your advertisement in the news 
papers of this State. 

You will perceive by the inclosed cash account that I have 
received five and twenty hundred dollars ; this was procured in 
part of the loan I mentioned to you. It was chiefly paid to me 
in specie, and I have exchanged it with Colonel Pickering and 
Mr. Duer for your notes ; the latter had twelve hundred dollars. 
Taxes collect slowly, but I must shortly receive two or three 
hundred pounds more, of which Mr. Duer will have the prin 
cipal benefit, as it appears by your letter to him, that you hoped 
he might receive three thousand dollars from me. 

As I may shortly set out for Philadelphia, I wish to surren- 


der to Mr. Tillotson, as soon as you think proper, the office in 
which he is to succeed. 

I have the honor to be, 

With sincere respect and esteem, 

Sir, your most obedient servant, 



ALBANY, November 3, 1782. 

Since we parted, my dear Marquis, at Yorktown, I have 
received three letters from you; one written on your way to 
Boston, two from France. I acknowledge that I have written to 
you only once ; but the reason has been, that I have been taught 
daily to expect your return. This I should not have done from 
my own calculations ; for I saw no prospect but of an inactive 
campaign; and you had much better be intriguing for your 
hobby-horse at Paris, than loitering away your time here. Yet 
they seem to be convinced, at head quarters, that you were cer 
tainly coming out ; and by your letters it appears to have been 
your own expectation. I imagine you have relinquished it by 
this time. 

I have been employed for the last ten months in rocking the 
cradle and studying the art of fleecing my neighbors. I am now 
a grave counsellor-at-law, and shall soon be a grave member of 
Congress. The Legislature, at their last session, took it into 
their heads to name me, pretty unanimously, one of their 

I am going to throw away a few months more in public life, 
and then retire a simple citizen and good paterfamilias. I set 
out for Philadelphia in a few days. You see the disposition I 
am in. You are condemned to run the race of ambition all 
your life. I am already tired of the career, and dare to leave it. 


But you would not give a pin for my letter unless politics or 
war made a part of it. You tell me they are employed in 
building a peace : and other accounts say it is nearly finished. I 
hope the work may meet with no interruptions. It is necessary 
for America ; especially if your army is taken from us, as we 
are told will soon be the case. That was an essential point 
d'appui, though money was the primum mobile of our finances, 
which must now lose the little activity lately given them. Our 
trade is prodigiously cramped. These States are in no humor for 
continuing exertions. If the war lasts, it must be carried on by 
external succors. I make no apology for the inertness of this 
country : I detest it : but since it exists, I am sorry to see other 
resources diminish. 

Your Ministers ought to know best what they are doing ; 
but if the war goes on, and the removal of the army does not 
prove an unwise measure, I renounce all future pretensions to 
judgment. I think, however, the circumstances of the enemy 
oblige them to peace. 

We have been hoping that they would abandon their posts 
in these States. It no doubt was once in contemplation, but 
latter appearances are rather ambiguous. I begin to suspect that 
if peace is not made, New- York and Charleston, the former at 
least, will still be held. 

There is no probability that I shall be one of the Commis 
sioners of Peace. It is a thing I do not desire myself, and which 
I imagine other people will not desire. 

Our army is now in excellent order, but small. 

The temper we are in respecting the alliance, you will see 
from public acts. There never was a time of greater unanimity 
on that point. 

I wish I durst enter into a greater detail with you ; but our 
cipher is not fit for it, and I fear to trust it in another shape. 

Is there any thing you wish on this side the water ? You 
know the warmth and sincerity of my attachment. Command 

I have not been so happy as to see Mr. De Segur. The title 

VOL. i. 21 

322 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [JEn. 25. 

of your friend would have been a title to every thing in my 

power to manifest. 

* * * * * * * 

Yours pour la vie, 


P. S. I wrote a long letter to the Viscount De Noailles, 
whom I also love. Has he received it ? Is the worthy Gouvion 
well ? Has he succeeded ? How is it with our friend Gimat ? 
How is it with General Du Portail ? All those men are men of 
merit, and interest my best wishes. 

Poor Laurens ! He has fallen a sacrifice to his ardor in a 
trifling skirmish in South Carolina. You know how truly I 
loved him, and will judge how much I regret him. 

I will write you again soon after my arrival at Philadelphia. 

A. H. 

To the Marquis De La Fayette. 


PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 11, 1782. 


Congress are equally affected and alarmed by the information 
they have received, that the Legislature of your State, at their 
last meeting, have refused their concurrence in establishing a 
duty on imports. They consider this measure as so indispensable 
to the prosecution of the war, that a sense of duty, and regard to 
the common safety, compel them to renew their efforts to engage 
a compliance with it. And in this view, they have determined to 
send a deputation of three members to your State, as expressed in 
the inclosed resolution. The gentlemen they have appointed 
will be able to lay before you a full and just representation of 
public affairs, from which, they flatter themselves, will result a 
conviction of the propriety of their solicitude upon the present 

-ffli.25.] CORRESPONDENCE. 323 

occasion. Convinced by past experience of the zeal and patriot 
ism of the State of Khode Island, they cannot doubt that it will 
yield to those urgent considerations which flow from a knowledge 
of our true situation. 

They will only briefly observe that the increasing discontents 
of the army, the loud clamors of the public creditors, and the ex 
treme disproportion between the public supplies and the demands 
of the public service, are so many invincible arguments for the 
fund recommended by Congress. They feel themselves unable 
to devise any other that will be more efficacious, less exceptiona 
ble, or more generally agreeable ; and if this is refused, they anti 
cipate calamities of a most menacing nature with this consola 
tion, however, that they have faithfully discharged their trust, 
and that the mischiefs which follow cannot be attributed to them. 

A principal object of the proposed fund is to procure loans 
abroad. If no security can be held out to lenders, the success of 
these must necessarily be very limited. The last accounts on the 
subject were not flattering ; and when intelligence shall arrive in 
Europe, that the State of Ehode Island has disagreed to the only 
fund which has yet been devised, there is every reason to appre 
hend it will have a fatal influence upon their future progress. 

Deprived of this resource, our affairs must in all probability 
hasten to a dangerous crisis, and these States be involved in greater 
embarrassments than they have yet experienced, and from which 
it may be much more difficult to emerge. Congress will only add 
a request to your Excellency, that if the Legislature should not 
be sitting, it may be called together as speedily as possible, to 
enable the gentlemen whom they have deputed to perform the 
purpose of their mission. 



POUGHKEEPSIE, December 29, 1782. 


Before I was honored by your letter of the eighteenth instant? 
I had received a line from Colonel Floyd on the same subject. 
As my answer to his is forwarded by the present conveyance, I 
beg leave to refer you to it for information. I hope it may prove 
satisfactory ; and I flatter myself no further disappointment can 
take place. Should I, however, be mistaken, you have only 
to advise me of it, and I will immediately forward the cash. 

Phelps, who was delayed on the road by the late heavy fall 
of snow, waited on me a few days since, and delivered me your 
official dispatches of the ninth instant. Considering the disposi 
tion heretofore discovered by Congress, on the subject of our con 
troversy with the grants, their resolutions which you inclosed 
me, though short of what we are justly entitled to, exceed my 
expectations ; and I am not without hope, if properly improved, 
may be the mean of leading to a just and favorable issue. The 
idea of many of the military being interested in the independency 
of Vermont, in consequence of their having taken grants of lands 
under them, I believe is without foundation. There was a period 
when the disposition of Congress, founded on political expedi 
ence, appeared so favorable to the independence of that district, 
as to have induced some gentlemen of the army to apply to the 
usurped government for grants. But when it was discovered 
that they were intriguing with the common enemy, the more 
respectable characters withdrew their applications, and relin 
quished all kind of connection with them ; and even those who 
did not go so far, I imagine conceive themselves perfectly secure 
under our late acts. If, however, this should not be the case, 
any difficulty which may be apprehended from it may be easily 
obviated; as I am persuaded the Legislature are disposed to 
every liberal act that may consist with the honor of the State, and 
tend to facilitate a settlement of the dispute. There was a time, 
not long since, when Congress had only to have spoken decicisely 


on the subject, and they would have been obeyed : nor do I be 
lieve the time is yet past, if they could be convinced that Con 
gress were in earnest. But if force is necessary to carry their de 
cision into execution, the longer it is delayed the more force it 
will require. The misfortune is, though I believe there are but 
few States that favor their independence, some members of those 
who do, take great pains to encourage the revolters in their oppo 
sition, by secret assurances that Congress will not direct any coer 
cive measures against them : and I am not without my fears that 
this conduct will, in some measure, defeat the present resolutions. 
I am, with great respect and esteem, 

Dear Sir, your most obedient servant, 


To the Hon. Alexander Hamilton, Esq. 


(Most Private.) 

CADIX, Feb. 5, 1783. 

Your friendship to me, my dear sir, and the affection I have 
for you, command my most confidential communications. As 
public affairs have the first place with me, let me tell you that 
our Articles of Confederation ought to be revised, and measures 
immediately taken to invigorate the Continental Union ; depend 
upon it, there lies the danger for America ; this last stroke is 
wanting, and unless the States be strongly bound to each other, 
we have much to fear from British, and, indeed, from European 
politics. There ought to be delegates from each State, and 
perhaps some officers among them, one of whom I would be 
happy to be, who, toward next fall, would meet together, and 
under the presidence of General Washington, may devise upon 
amendments to be proposed in the Articles of Confederation 
limits of States, &c., &c., &c. As to the army, I hope their 
country will be grateful, I hope the half pay affair may be ter 
minated to their satisfaction. 


Now, my dear sir, I am going to torment you with my 
private concerns. First of all, I wish the people of America to 
know that, when I have lengthened my furlough, it was for their 
service, and at the request of their commissioners ; that upon my 
embarking in a fresh expedition, it was with a view to join you 
in the summer, with forces adequate to every plan General 
Washington had directed me to promote; that, moreover, a 
Canadian expedition was to take place; that then, instead of 
sending a vessel, I was going myself to America. But that 
entreaties from your residence at Madrid have forced me to go 
there, and probably from there to Paris ; but that in the month 
of June, I am to embark for America. I confess, my dear sir, 
I have a great value for my American popularity, and I want 
the people at large to know my affection to them and my zeal 
for their service. The best way to manage it is to have a resolve 
of Congress published, by way of answer to my letters, wherein 
their approbation of my conduct will comprehend the above 
mentioned matters. 

There is another thing which would highly natter me, and 
lies within your department ; a ratification of the treaty will be 
sent by Congress to the Court of England ; it is but an honorary 
commission, that requires only a few weeks, and even a few days' 
attendance. The sedentary Minister you may send, or with me, 
or after me, or, what I would like better, at the time when Great 
Britain has sent hers to you. So many greater proofs of con 
fidence have been bestowed upon me by Congress, that I may 
truly tell you my wishes upon this very pleasing mark, of their 
esteem. Upon my leaving England, I have been considered 
there as an enthusiastic rebel, and, indeed, a young madman. I 
would well enough like to present myself there in the capacity 
of an Extraordinary Envoy from the United States ; and though 
upon my committing so far the French Ambassador, I have been 
with him on pretty bad terms ; now our friendship has revived, 
and I am in a situation to lead him into my measures, and to know 
his secrets without telling him mine. 

As to the choice of a Minister, (this commission being only a 
compliment,) I think it is a very difficult task. I advise to take 


a gentleman who had no connection with the great men in Eng 
land ; our friend Hamilton would be a very proper choice ; you 
ought to bring it about. Are you acquainted with Col. Harri 
son, who was in the General's family ; there are few men so 
honest and sensible ; but I hope you may send Hamilton, and 
he knows better than all the British councils. 

In case Congress were pleased to do for me what I have so 
much at heart, I would beg you to send Mr. McHenry to me, a 
member in the Maryland Senate. This, my dear sir, is entirely 
confidential for you, and for you alone ; should the General be 
in Philadelphia, you may show it to him. Adieu. My best 
respects wait upon your lady and family. 

Most affectionately, 

I am yours, 


Should you think it of any use to have printed the last 
paragraph of my letter to Congress, I will be glad of it, as the 
opinion of one who knows Europe may have some weight with 
the people. 


PHILADELPHIA, February 7, 1783. 


Flattering myself that your knowledge of me will induce you 
to receive the observations I make, as dictated by a regard to 
the public good, I take the liberty to suggest to you my ideas 
on some matters of delicacy and importance. I view the present 
juncture as a very interesting one. I need not observe how far 
the temper and situation of the army make it so. The state of 
our finances was perhaps never more critical. I am under 
injunctions which will not permit me to disclose some facts that 
would at once demonstrate this position ; but I think it probable 
you will be possessed of them through another channel. It is, 

328 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [>ET. 26. 

however, certain, that there has scarcely been a period of the 
revolution which called more for wisdom and decision in Con 
gress. Unfortunately for us, we are a body not governed by 
reason or foresight, but by circumstances. It is probable we 
shall not take the proper measures ; and if we do not, a few 
months may open an embarrassing scene. This will be the case, 
whether we have peace or a continuance of the war. 

If the war continues, it would seem that the army must, in 
June, subsist itself, to defend the country. If peace should take 
place, it will subsist itself, to procure justice to itself. It appears to 
be a prevailing opinion in the army, that the disposition to re 
compense their services, will cease with the necessity for them ; 
and that if they once lay down their arms, they part with the 
means of obtaining justice. It is to be lamented that appear 
ances afford too much ground for their distrust. 

It becomes a serious inquiry, What is the true line of policy ? 
The claims of the army, urged with moderation, but with firm 
ness, may operate on those weak minds which are influenced by 
their apprehensions more than by their judgments, so as to pro 
duce a concurrence in the measures which the exigencies of 
affairs demand. They may add weight to the applications of 
Congress to the several States. So far a useful turn may 
be given to them. But the difficulty will be, to keep a com 
plaining and suffering army within the bounds of moderation. 

This your Excellency's influence must effect. In order to 
it, it will be advisable not to discountenance their endeavors to 
procure redress, but rather, by the intervention of confidential 
and prudent persons, to take the direction of them. This, however, 
must not appear. It is of moment to the public tranquillity, 
that your Excellency should preserve the confidence of the 
army without losing that of the people. This will enable you, 
in case of extremity, to guide the torrent, and to bring order, 
perhaps even good, out of confusion. 'Tis a part that requires 
address ; but 'tis one which your own situation, as well as the 
welfare of the community, points out. 

I will not conceal from your Excellency a truth which it is 
necessary you should know. An idea is propagated in the army, 


that delicacy, carried to an extreme, prevents your espousing its 
interests with sufficient warmth. The falsehood of this opinion 
no one can be better acquainted with than myself; but it is not 
the less mischievous for being false. Its tendency is to impair 
that influence which you may exert with advantage, should any 
commotions unhappily ensue, to moderate the pretensions of the 
army, and make their conduct correspond with their duty. 

The great desideratum at present, is the establishment of 
general funds, which alone can do justice to the creditors of 
the United States (of whom the army forms the most meri 
torious class), restore public credit, and supply the future wants 
of government. This is the object of all men of sense. In this, 
the influence of the army, properly directed, may co-operate. 

The intimations I have thrown out, will suffice to give your 
Excellency a proper conception of my sentiments. You will 
judge of their reasonableness or fallacy ; but I persuade myself 
you will do justice to my motives. 

I have the honor to be, 

With great respect, 
Your Excellency's 

Most obedient servant, 


General Knox has the confidence of the army, and is a man 
of sense. I think he may be safely made use of. Situated as I 
am, your Excellency will feel the confidential nature of these 

His Excellency General Washington. 


NEWBURGH, 17th February, 1783. 


I am now on a visit from the General from Kingston, where 
the Legislature is convened. The British King's speech to 


his Parliament, and his Secretary's letters to the Lord Mayor of 
London, which we had the pleasure of meeting here, afford us 
the fairest prospect of a speedy peace. I have but one anxiety 
remaining, and that respects a better establishment of our Gen 
eral Government on a basis that will secure the permanent union 
of the States, and a punctual payment of the public debts. I 
do not think our Legislature will be averse to a reasonable 
system. The Assembly have agreed to the requisitions of Con 
gress, and to press for the arrears of taxes ; and a joint com 
mittee of both Houses have taken measures to compel the imme 
diate production of the accounts of all who have been intrusted 
with public money. This last step became so necessary, that I 
found no difficulty in getting it adopted. I would even hazard 
an attempt to introduce an intendant, if I had proper materials ; 
but I am disappointed in not receiving the Maryland plan, which 
was promised me by Mr. Wright and Mr. Homsly. If possible, 
I still wish you would forward this act on this subject, and for 
the collection of taxes. The example of a State may be adopted, 
when any plan of my own might be rejected. There is such con 
fusion in the present administration of our State finances, and 
the weight of our debts is so burthensome, that a remedy must 
be provided; and I apprehend the production of the public 
accounts, before alluded to, will furnish us with sufficient argu 
ments to prove its necessity. 

"We are in want of the report, and of the evidence and argu 
ments in support of our Territorial rights. If, as you proposed, 
you have taken the trouble to copy it, be so obliging as to trans 
mit your copy. Should your leisure not have been sufficient for 
the undertaking, be pleased to get it transcribed and forwarded. 
It is a collection of great importance to the State, and if it 
should be lost, I do not know who would submit to the labor of 
a second effort. 

General Schuyler was sent for a week ago to pay the last 
duties to your grandfather. He wrote me the tenth, that there 
was no hopes of his surviving many days, but I learn that he 
was still living four days ago, without the least prospect of re 


From your known punctuality, I take it for granted that you 
have written to me agreeably to your promise, and that your 
letters have miscarried. Any communication, while the Legis 
lature are convened, would be peculiarly acceptable, and pro 
bably useful. 

Be pleased to present my respectful compliments to Colonel 
Floyd, to Mrs. Hamilton, and Mr. and Mrs. Carter, and to the 
gentlemen of our family, etc. 

With the utmost regard, I remain, dear Sir, 
Your affectionate an'd most 

Obedient humble servant, 

Colonel Alexander Hamilton. 


February, 24, 1783. 


In my letter of the fourteenth I informed your Excellency, 
that Congress were employed in devising a plan for carrying the 
eighth article of the Confederation into execution. This busi 
ness is at length brought to a conclusion. I inclose, for the in 
formation of the Legislature, the proceedings upon it in different 
stages, by which they will see the part I have acted. But as I 
was ultimately left in a small minority, I think it my duty to 
explain the motives upon which my opposition to the general 
course of the House was founded. 

I am of opinion, that the article of the Confederation itself 
was ill-judged. In the first place, I do not believe there is any 
general representative of the wealth of a nation, the criterion of 
its ability to pay taxes. There are only two that can be thought 
of, land and numbers. 

The revenues of the United Provinces (general and partic 
ular) were computed, before the present war, to more than half 
as much as those of Great Britain. The extent of their terri- 

332 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [J&T. 26. 

tory is not one-fourth part as great ; their population less than 
a third. The comparison is still more striking between those 
Provinces and the Swiss Cantons ; in both of which, extent of 
territory and population are nearly the same : and yet the reve 
nues of the former are five times as large as those of the latter ; 
nor could any efforts of taxation bring them to any thing like a 
level. In both cases, the advantages for agriculture are superior 
in those countries which afford least revenue in proportion. I 
have selected these examples because they are most familiar; 
but whoever will extend the comparison between the nations of 
the world, will perceive that the position I have laid down is 
supported by universal experience. 

The truth is, the ability of a country to pay taxes depends on 
infinite combinations of physical and moral causes, which can 
never be accommodated to any general rule ; climate, soil, pro 
ductions, advantages for navigation, government, genius of the 
people, progress of arts and industry, and an endless variety of 
circumstances. The diversities are sufficiently great, in these 
States, to make an infinite difference in their relative wealth ; the 
proportion of which can never be found by any common measure 

The only possible way, then, of making them contribute to 
the general expense, in an equal proportion to their means, is by 
general taxes imposed under Continental authority. 

In this mode, there would, no doubt, be inequalities, and, for 
a considerable time, material ones ; but experience, and the 
constant operation of a general interest, which, by the very 
collision of particular interests, must, in the main, prevail in a 
Continental deliberative, would at length correct those inequali 
ties, and balance one tax that should bear hard upon one State, 
by another that should have proportional weight in others. This 
idea, however, was not, at the period of framing the Confedera 
tion, and is not yet, agreeable to the spirit of the time. To 
futurity we must leave the discovery, how far this spirit is wise 
or foolish. One thing only is now certain ; that Congress, having 
the discretionary power of determining the quantum of money 
to be paid into the general treasury towards defraying the com- 


mon expenses, have, in effect, the constitutional power of general 

The restraints upon the exercise of this power, amount to 
perpetuating a rule for fixing the proportions, which must of 
necessity produce inequality, and, by refusing the Federal Go 
vernment a power of specific taxation and of collection, without 
substituting any other adequate means of coercion, do, in fact, 
leave the compliance with Continental requisitions to the good 
will of the respective States. Inequality is inherent in the theory 
of the Confederation ; and, in the practice, that inequality must 
increase in proportion to the honesty or dishonesty of the com 
ponent parts. This vice will either, in its consequences, reform 
the Federal Constitution, or dissolve it. 

If a general standard must be fixed, numbers were preferable 
to land. Modes might be devised to ascertain the former with 
tolerable precision ; but I am persuaded the experiment will 
prove, that the value of all the land in each State cannot be 
ascertained with any thing like exactness. Both these measures 
have the common disadvantage of being no equal representative 
of the wealth of the people ; but one is much more simple, defi 
nite, and certain than the other. 

I have indulged myself in these remarks, to show that I have 
little expectation of success from any mode of carrying the article 
in question into execution upon equitable principles. I owe it, 
however, to myself, to declare, that my opposition did not arise 
from this source. The Confederation has pointed out this mode ; 
and, though I would heartily join in a representation of the dif 
ficulties (of which every man of sense must be sensible on exa 
mination) that occur in the execution of the plan, to induce the 
States to consent to a change, yet, as this was not the disposition 
of a majority of Congress, I would have assented to any mode of 
attempting it which was not either obviously mischievous or im 

The first plan proposed, as your Excellency will see, was an 
actual valuation of each State by itself. This was evidently 
making the interested party judge in his own cause. Those who 
have seen the operation of this principle between the counties in the 

334 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [J&T. 26. 

same State, and the districts in the same county, cannot doubt a 
moment that the valuations on this plan would have been alto 
gether unequal and unjust. Without supposing more liberality 
in one State than another, the degree of care, judgment, and me 
thod, employed in the execution, would alone make extreme 
differences in the results. 

This mode has, also, the further inconvenience of awakening 
all the jealousies of the several States against each other. Each 
would suspect that its neighbor had favored itself, whether the 
partiality appeared or not. It would be impossible to silence 
these distrusts, and to make the States sit down satisfied with the 
justice of each other. Every new requisition for money would 
be a new signal for discussion and clamor ; and the seeds of dis 
union, already sown too thick, would not be a little multiplied. 

To guard against these evils, the plan proposes a revision by 
Congress ; but it is easy to be seen that such a power could not 
be exercised. Should any States return defective valuations, it 
would be difficult to find sufficient evidence to determine them 
such. To alter would not be admissible ; for Congress could 
have no data which could be presumed equivalent to those which 
must have governed the judgment of commissioners under oath, 
or an actual view of the premises. To do either this, or to reject, 
would be an impeachment of the honor of the States, which it is 
not probable there would be decision enough to hazard ; and 
which, if done, could not fail to excite serious disgusts. There is 
a wide difference between a single State exercising such a power 
over its own counties, and a Confederated Government exercising 
it over sovereign States which compose the Confederacy. It 
might also happen, that too many States would be interested in 
the defective valuations, to leave a sufficient number willing, 
either to alter or to reject. 

These considerations prevailed to prevent the plan being 
adopted by a majority. 

The last plan may be less mischievous than the first ; but it 
appears to me altogether ineffectual. The mere quantity of land 
granted and surveyed, with the general species of buildings upon 
them, can certainly be no criteria to determine their value. The 

jEi. 26.] CORRESPONDENCE. 335 

plan does not even distinguish, the improved from the unimproved 
land ; the qualities of soil, or degrees of improvement : the quan 
tities of the houses and other buildings, are entirely omitted. 
These, it seems, are to be judged of by the commissioners to be 
appointed by each State. But I am unable to conceive, how 
any commissioner can form the least estimate of these circum 
stances with respect even to his own State, much less with respect 
to other States, which would be necessary to establish a just rela 
tive value. If even there was a distinction of improved from un 
improved land, by supposing an intrinsic value in the land, and 
adopting general rates, something nearer the truth might be at 
tained ; but it must now be all conjecture and uncertainty. 

The numbers of inhabitants, distinguishing white from black, 
are called for. This is not only totally foreign to the Confedera 
tion, but can answer no reasonable purpose. It has been said, 
that the proportion of numbers may guide and correct the esti 
mates. An assertion, purely verbal, has no meaning. A judg 
ment must first be formed of the value of the lands upon some 
principles. If this should be altered by the proportion of num 
bers, it is plain numbers would be substituted to land. 

Another objection to this plan is, that it lets in the particular 
interests of the States, to operate in the returns of the quantities 
of land, number of buildings, and number of inhabitants. But 
the principle of this objection applies less forcibly here than 
against the former plan. 

Whoever will consider the plain import of the eighth article of 
the Confederation, must be convinced, that it intended an actual 
and specific valuation of land, buildings, and improvements, not a 
mere general estimate, according to the present plan. While we 
insist, therefore, upon adhering to the Confederation, we should 
do it in reality, not barely in appearance. 

Many of those who voted for this scheme, had as bad an opin 
ion of it as myself; but they were induced to accede to it, by a 
persuasion that some plan for the purpose was expected by the 
States ; and that none better, in the present circumstances of the 
country, could be fallen upon. 

A leading rule which I have laid down for the direction of 

336 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [JErr. 26. 

my conduct, is this : that while I would have a just deference for 
the expectations of the States, I would never consent to amuse 
them by attempts which must either fail in the execution, or be 
productive of evil. I would rather incur the negative inconve 
niences of delay than the positive mischiefs of injudicious expe 
dients. A contrary conduct serves to destroy confidence in the 
government, the greatest misfortune that can befall a nation. 
There should, in my opinion, be a character of wisdom and effi 
ciency in all the measures of the Federal Council, the opposite of 
a spirit of temporizing concession. 

I would have sufficient reliance on the judgments of the seve 
ral States, to hope that good reasons for not attempting a thing, 
would be more satisfactory to them than precipitate and fruitless 

My idea is, that, taking it for granted the States will expect an 
experiment on the principle of the Confederation, the best plan 
will be to make it by commissioners appointed by Congress, and 
acting under their authority. Congress might, in the first in 
stance, appoint three or more of the principal characters in each 
State for probity and abilities, with a power to nominate other 
commissioners under them, in each subdivision of the State. Ge 
neral principles might be laid down for the regulation of their 
conduct, by which uniformity in the manner of conducting the 
business would obtain. Sanctions of such solemnity might be 
prescribed, and such notoriety given to every part of the transac 
tion, that the commissioners could neither be careless nor partial 
without a sacrifice of reputation. 

To carry this plan, however, into effect, with sufficient care 
and accuracy, would be a work both of time and expense ; and, 
unfortunately, we are so pressed to find money for calls of im 
mediate necessity, that we could not, at present, undertake a 
measure which would require so large a sum. 

To me it appears evident, that every part of a business which 
is of so important and universal concern, should be transacted on 
uniform principles, and under the direction of that body which 
has a common interest. 

In general, I regard the present moment, probably the dawn 


of peace, as peculiarly critical ; and the measures which it shall 
produce, as of great importance to the future welfare of these 
States. I am, therefore, scrupulously cautious of assenting to 
plans which appear to me founded on false principles. 

Your Excellency will observe, that the valuation of the 
lands is to be the standard for adjusting the accounts, for past 
supplies, between the United States and the particular States. 
This, if adhered to, without allowance for the circumstances of 
those States which have been more immediately the theatre of 
the war, will charge our State for the past, according to its future 
ability, when in an entire condition, if the valuation should be 
made after we regain possession of the parts of the State now in 
the power of the enemy. 

I have heretofore introduced a motion for repeating the call, 
in a more earnest manner, upon the States, to vest Congress with 
a power of making equitable abatements, agreeably to the spirit 
of the Kesolution of the twentieth of February last, which few of 
the States have complied with. This motion has been committed. 
I know not what will be its fate. 

Notwithstanding the opposition I have given, now the matter 
has been decided in Congress, I hope the State will cheerfully 
comply with what is required. Unless each State is governed 
by this principle, there is an end of the Union. Every State 
will, no doubt, have a right, in this case, to accompany its com 
pliance with such remarks as it may think proper. 
I have the honor to be, 

Your Excellency's most ob't servant, 

P. S. After the plan was agreed upon, it was committed to 
be put into form ; and, when reported, instead of commissioners, 
an alteration was carried for making the estimate by a Grand 

February 27. 

Mr. Morris has signified to Congress, his resolution to resign 
by the first of June, if adequate funds are not by that time pro- 
VOL. I. 22 


vided. This will be a severe stroke to our affairs. No man, fit 
for the office, will be willing to supply his place, for the very 
reason he resigns. 

'Tis happy for us we have reasons to expect a peace. I am 
sorry that, by different accounts, it appears not to have been 
concluded late in December. 

To His Excellency Governor Clinton. 


KINGSTON, February 24, 1783. 


I have been honored by your letter of the twelfth of January. 
You may remember, that in July last, I submitted to the con 
sideration of our Legislature, certain Eesolutions of the Assembly 
of New Hampshire, making overtures for an amicable settlement 
of a boundary line between the two States ; which were read 
and committed : but as the session was short, and devoted prin 
cipally to the particular business for which they were convened, 
no determination was had on the subject. I had some reason to 
expect a consideration of these Eesolutions would have taken 
place at the present meeting. This induced me to defer answer 
ing your letter until I could inform you of the result. I cannot, 
however, discover any disposition to take up this business. It 
seems to be the prevailing opinion, that as Congress has engaged 
to make a final decision of the controversy respecting the district 
called the Grants, a partial compromise of the matter would be 
improper ; as any measures for the purpose, might alienate the 
affections of our most zealous subjects in that quarter, and be 
attended with other dangerous consequences. Besides, doubts 
exist whether the Legislature have authority, by any act of 
theirs, to consent to such a dismemberment of the State as would 
probably be insisted upon, on a compromise with New Hamp 
shire. I am, nevertheless, still persuaded, should Congress 


determine the summit of the mountains to be the boundary be 
tween the two States, this State (whatever our sentiments might 
be of the equity of the decision) would, for the sake of peace, 
submit to it : and there cannot be a doubt, but that New Hamp 
shire would be perfectly satisfied with the jurisdiction of so ex 
tensive and valuable a territory. I take it for granted, that, 
whatever may be the decision, equitable measures will be adopted 
for securing the property of individuals. 

I congratulate you, most sincerely, on the promising pros 
pects of peace. I pray nothing may prevent the desirable event 
soon taking place. Our friends from the city, and Long Island, 
anxiously wait for the moment in which they may return to 
their homes. The expectations of all are so much raised as to 
obstruct public business not a little. Please to offer my best re 
spects to Mrs. Hamilton, and believe me, 

With great respect and esteem, 

Sir, your most obedient servant, 


P. S. It is with great concern I mention, that since writing 
the above, I am informed of the death of your relation, Colonel 
John Yan Kensselaer. He departed this life on Friday last. 
General Schuyler, who was sent for when his recovery was 
despaired of, is to set out from Albany on his return to this 
place on "Wednesday next. 

G. C. 
To Alexander Hamilton, Esq. 


NEWBURGH, March 4, 1783. 


I have received your favor of February, and thank you for 
the information and observations it has conveyed to me. I shall 
always think myself obliged by a free communication of senti- 

340 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [J3 T . 26. 

ments, and have often thought (but suppose I thought wrong, as 
it did not accord with the practice of Congress), that the public 
interest might be benefited, if the Commander-in-Chief of the 
army was let more into the political and pecuniary state of our 
affairs than he is. Enterprises, and the adoption of military and 
other arrangements that might be exceedingly proper in some 
circumstances, would be altogether improper in others. It fol 
lows, then, by fair deduction, that where there is a want of infor 
mation, there must be chance-medley ; and a man may be upon 
the brink of a precipice before he is aware of his danger, when a 
little foreknowledge might enable him to avoid it. But this by 
the by. 

The hint contained in your letter, and the knowledge I have 
derived from the public gazettes, respecting the non-payment of 
taxes, contain all the information I have received of the danger 
that stares us in the face on account of our funds ; and so far was 
I from conceiving that our finances were in so deplorable a state, 
at this time, that I had imbibed ideas from some source or other, 
that, with the prospect of a loan from Holland, we should be 
able to rub along. 

To you, who have seen the danger to which the army has 
been exposed to a political dissolution for want of subsistence, 
and the unhappy spirit of licentiousness which it imbibed by 
becoming, in one or two instances, its own proveditors, no obser 
vations are necessary to evince the fatal tendency of such a 
measure ; but I shall give it as my opinion, that it would at this 
day be productive of civil commotions and end in blood. Un 
happy situation this ! Grod forbid we should be involved in it. 

The predicament in which I stand, as citizen and soldier, is 
as critical and delicate as can well be conceived. It has been 
the subject of many contemplative hours. The sufferings of a 
complaining army on one hand, and the inability of Congress, 
and tardiness of the States on the other, are the forebodings of 
evil, and may be productive of events which are more to be de 
precated than prevented : but I am not without hope, if there is 
such a disposition shown as prudence and policy dictate, to do 
justice, your apprehensions, in case of peace, are greater than 


there is cause for. In this, however, I may be mistaken, if those 
ideas which you have been informed are propagated in the army, 
should be extensive, the source of which may be easily traced ; 
as the old leaven, it is said, for I have no proof of it, is again 
beginning to work, under the mask of the most perfect dissimu 
lation and apparent cordiality. 

Be these things as they may, I shall pursue the same steady 
line of conduct which has governed me hitherto; fully con 
vinced, that the sensible and discerning part of the army cannot 
be unacquainted (although I never took pains to inform them) 
of the services I have rendered it on more occasions than one. 
This, and pursuing the suggestions of your letter, which I am 
happy to find coincide with my own practice for several months 
past, and which was the means of directing the business of the 
army into the channel it now is, leave me under no great appre 
hension of its exceeding the bounds of reason and moderation ; 
notwithstanding the prevailing sentiment in the army is, that 
the prospect of compensation for past services will terminate 
with the war. 

The just claims of the army ought, and it is to be hoped will, 
have their weight with every sensible Legislature in the Union, 
if Congress point to their demands ; show (if the case is so) the 
reasonableness of them ; and the impracticability of complying 
without their aid. In any other point of view, it would, in my 
opinion, be impolitic to introduce the army on the tapis, lest it 
should excite jealousy and bring on its concomitants. The 
States cannot, surely, be so devoid of common sense, common 
honesty, and common policy, as to refuse their aid, on a full, 
clear, and candid representation of facts from Congress; more 
especially, if these should be enforced by members of their own 
body, who might demonstrate what the inevitable consequences 
of failure must lead to. 

In my opinion it is a matter worthy of consideration, how 
far an adjournment of Congress for a few months is advisable. 
The delegates, in that case, if they are in unison themselves re 
specting the great defects of their Constitution, may represent them 
fully and boldly to their constituents. To me, who know nothing 

342 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [&T. 26. 

of the business which, is before Congress, nor of the arcanum, it 
appears that such a measure would tend to promote the public 
weal : for it is clearly my opinion, unless Congress have powers 
competent to all general purposes, that the distresses we have 
encountered, the expenses we have incurred, and the blood we 
have spilt, in the course of an eight years' war, will avail us 

The contents of your letter is known only to myself; and 
your prudence will direct what should be done with this. 
"With great esteem and regard, 
I am, dear Sir, 

Your most obedient servant, 

To the Hon. Alexander Hamilton, Esq. 


PHILADELPHIA, March 5, 1783. 


I had the honor of writing to your Excellency lately on a 
very confidential subject, and shall be anxious to know, as soon 
as convenient, whether the letter got safe to hand. 

The bearer, Shattuck, thinks he can point out means of 
apprehending Wells and Knowlton, the two persons whom your 
Excellency was authorized to have taken into custody. I have 
desired him to call upon you to disclose the plan. 

I will not trouble your Excellency with any observation on 
the importance of getting hold of those persons. 

The surmise that Mr. Arnold, a member of Congress, gave 
intelligence to them of the design to take them, makes it pecu 
liarly important. 

I have the honor to be, 

Your Excellency's most ob't serv't, 


To His Excellency General Washington. 



NEWBURGH, March 12, 1783. 


When I wrote to you last, we were in a state of tranquillity ; 
but after the arrival of a certain gentleman, who shall be name 
less at present, from Philadelphia, a storm very suddenly arose, 
with unfavorable prognostics ; which, though diverted for a 
moment, is not yet blown over ; nor is it in my power to point 
to the issue. 

The papers which I send officially to Congress, will super 
sede the necessity of my remarking on the tendency of them. 
The notification and address, both, appeared at the same in 
stant, on the day preceding the intended meeting. The first of 
these I got hold of the same afternoon ; the other not till next 

There is something very mysterious in this business. It 
appears reports have been propagated in Philadelphia, that dan 
gerous combinations were forming in the army ; and this at a 
time when there was not a syllable of the kind in agitation in 
camp. It also appears, that upon the arrival in camp of the 
gentleman above alluded to, such sentiments as these were im 
mediately circulated : That it was universally expected the army 
would not disband until they had obtained justice ; that the 
public creditors looked up to them for redress of their own griev 
ances; would afford them every aid, and even join them in 
the field, if necessary ; that some members of Congress wished 
the measure might take effect, in order to compel the public, 
particularly the delinquent States, to do justice ; with many 
other suggestions of a similar nature. 

From this, and a variety of other considerations, it is firmly 
believed by some, the scheme was not only planned, but also 
digested and matured, in Philadelphia ;* but my opinion shall 

* The words, " By others, that it is the illegitimate offspring of a person in 
the army," which came in here, are obliterated in the original, but were restored 
by Washington in the postscript. 

344 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [jE T . 26. 

be suspended till I have better ground to found one on. The 
matter was managed with great art ; for as soon as the minds of 
the officers were thought to be prepared for the transaction, the 
anonymous invitations and addresses to the officers were put in 
circulation through every State line in the army. I was obliged, 
therefore, in order to arrest on the spot, the feet that stood 
wavering on a tremendous precipice, to prevent the officers from 
being taken by surprise, while the passions were all inflamed, 
and to rescue them from plunging themselves into a gulf of 
civil horror from which there might be no receding, to issue the 
order of the eleventh. 

This was done upon the principle that it is easier to divert 
from a wrong, and point to a right path, than it is to recall the 
hasty and fatal steps which have been already taken. 

It is commonly supposed, if the officers had met agreeably to 
the anonymous summons, with their feelings all alive, resolu 
tions might have been formed, the consequences of which may 
be more easily conceived than described. Now they will have 
leisure to view the matter more calmly, and will act more seri 
ously. It is to be hoped they will be induced to adopt more 
rational measures, and wait a while longer a settlement of their 
accounts, the postponing of which appears to be the most plau 
sible, and almost the only article of which designing men can 
make an improper use, by insinuating (which they really do) 
that it is done with design that peace may take place, and pre 
vent any adjustment of accounts; which, say they, would inevi 
tably be the case, if the war was to cease to-morrow : or, suppos 
ing the best, you would have to dance attendance at public 
offices, at great distances, perhaps, and equally great expenses, 
to obtain a settlement, which would be highly injurious, nay, 
ruinous to you. This is their language. 

Let me beseech you, therefore, my good sir, to urge this mat 
ter earnestly, and without further delay. The situation of these 
gentlemen, I do verily believe, is distressing beyond description. 
It is affirmed to me, that a large part of them have no better 
prospect before them than a jail, if they are turned loose with 
out liquidation of accounts, and an assurance of that justice to 


which they are so worthily entitled. To prevail on the delegates 
of those States, through whose means these difficulties occur, it 
may, in my opinion, with propriety be suggested to them, if any 
disastrous consequences should follow, by reason of their delin 
quency, that they must be answerable to God and their Country 
for the ineffable horrors which may be occasioned thereby. 
I am, dear Sir, 

Your most obedient servant, 


P. S. I have received your letter of the fifth, and have put 
that matter in train which was mentioned in it. 

G. W. 

I am this instant informed, that a second address to the 
officers, distinguished No. 2, is thrown into circulation. The 
contents evidently prove, that the author is in, or near, camp ; 
and that the following words, erased in the second page of this 
letter, ought not to have met with this treatment, viz. " By 
others, that it is the illegitimate offspring of a person in the 


PHILADELPHIA, March 17, 1783. 


I am duly honored with your Excellency's letters of the 
fourth and twelfth instant. It is much to be regretted, though 
not to be wondered at, that steps of so inflammatory a tendency 
have been taken in the army. Your Excellency has, in my 
opinion, acted wisely. The best way is, ever, not to attempt to 
stem a torrent, but to divert it. 

I am happy to find you coincide in opinion with me on the 
conduct proper to be observed by yourself. I am persuaded, 
more and more, it is that which is most consistent with your own 
reputation and the public safety. 

346 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [^T. 26. 

Our affairs wear a most serious aspect, as well foreign as 
domestic. Before this gets to hand, your Excellency will pro 
bably have seen the provisional articles between Great Britain 
and these States. It might, at first appearance, be concluded, 
that these will be the prelude to a general peace ; but there are 
strong reasons to doubt the truth of such a conclusion. Obstacles 
may arise from different quarters ; from the demands of Spain 
and Holland ; from the hope, in France, of greater acquisitions 
in the East ; and, perhaps, still more probably, from the insin 
cerity and duplicity of Lord Shelburne, whose politics, founded 
in the peculiarity of his situation, as well as in the character of 
the man, may well be suspected of insidiousness. I am really 
apprehensive, if peace does not take place, that the negotiations 
will tend to sow distrust among the allies, and weaken the 
force of the common league. We have, I fear, men among us, 
and men in trust, who have a hankering after British connection. 
We have others whose confidence in France savors of credulity. 
The intrigues of the former, and the incautiousness of the latter, 
may be both, though in Afferent degrees, injurious to the Ameri 
can interests, and make it difficult for prudent men to steer a 
proper course. 

There are delicate circumstances, with respect to the late 
foreign transactions, which I am not at liberty to reveal ; but 
which, joined to our internal weaknesses, disorders, follies, and 
prejudices, make this country stand upon precarious ground. 

Some use, perhaps, may be made of these ideas, to induce 
moderation in the army. An opinion that their country does 
not stand upon a secure footing, will operate upon the patriotism 
of the officers against hazarding any domestic commotions. 

When I make these observations, I cannot forbear adding, 
that if no excesses take place, I shall not be sorry that ill- 
humors have appeared. I shall not regret importunity, if tem 
perate, from the army. 

There are good intentions in the majority of Congress, but 
there is not sufficient wisdom or decision. There are dangerous 
prejudices, in the particular States, opposed to those measures 
which alone can give stability and prosperity to the Union. 


There is a fatal opposition to Continental views. Necessity 
alone can work a reform. But how produce that necessity, how 
apply it, and how keep it within salutary bounds ? I fear we 
have been contending for a shadow. 

The affair of accounts I considered as having been put on a 
satisfactory footing. The particular States have been required 
to settle till the first of August, '80 ; and the Superintendent of 
Finance has been directed to take measures for settling since that 
period. I shall immediately see him on the subject. 

We have had eight States and a half in favor of a commuta 
tion of the half pay for an average of ten years' purchase ; that 
is, five years' full pay instead of half pay for life, which, on a 
calculation of annuities, is nearly an equivalent. I hope this 
will now shortly take place. 

"We have made considerable progress in a plan to be recom 
mended to the several States for funding all the public* debts, 
including those of the army ; which is certainly the only way to 
restore public credit, and enable us to continue the war by bor 
rowing abroad, if it should be necessary, to continue it. 

I omitted mentioning to your Excellency, that, from Euro 
pean intelligence, there is great reason to believe, at all events, 
peace or war, New- York will be evacuated in the spring. It 
will be a pity if any domestic disturbances should change the 
plans of the British Court. 

I have the honor to be, 

With the greatest respect, 

Your Excellency's most ob't serv't, 


P. S. Your Excellency mentions, that it has been surmised, 
the plan in agitation was formed in Philadelphia ; that combina 
tions have been talked of between the public creditors and the 
army ; and that members of Congress had encouraged the idea. 
This is partly true. I have myself urged, in Congress, the pro 
priety of uniting the influence of the public creditors, and the 
army, as a part of them, to prevail upon the States to enter into 
their views. I have expressed the same sentiments out of doors. 

348 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [J&r. 26. 

Several other members of Congress have done the same. The 
meaning, however, of all this, was simply, that Congress should 
adopt such a plan as would embrace the relief of all the public 
creditors, including the army ; in order that the personal influ 
ence of some, the connections of others, and a sense of justice to 
the army, as well as the apprehension of ill consequences, might 
form a mass of influence, in each State, in favor of the measures 
of Congress. In this view, as I mentioned to your Excellency 
in a former letter, I thought the discontents of the army might 
be turned to a good account. I am still of opinion, that their 
earnest but respectful applications for redress will have a good 
effect. As to any combination of force, it would only be produc 
tive of the horrors of a civil war, might end in the ruin of the 
country, and would certainly end in the ruin of the army. 

A. H. 
To His Excellency General Washington. 


PHILADELPHIA, March 24, 1783. 


Your Excellency will, before this reaches you, have received 
a letter from the Marquis De La Fayette, informing you, that the 
preliminaries of peace between all the belligerent powers have 
been concluded. I congratulate your Excellency on this happy 
conclusion of your labors. It now only remains to make solid 
establishments within, to perpetuate our Union, to prevent our 
being a ball in the hands of European powers, banded against 
each other at their pleasure ; in fine, to make our independence 
truly a blessing. This, it is to be lamented, will be an arduous 
work ; for, to borrow a figure from mechanics, the centrifugal is 
much stronger than the centripetal force in these States ; the 
seeds of disunion much more numerous than those of union. 

I will add, that your Excellency's exertions are as essential 


to accomplish this end, as they have been to establish indepen 
dence. I will, upon a future- occasion, open myself upon this 

Your conduct in the affair of the officers is highly pleasing 
here. The measures of the army are such as I could have wished 
them, and will add new lustre to their character, as well as 
strengthen the hands of Congress. 

I am, with great truth and respect, 
Your Excellency's 

Most obedient servant, 

To his Excellency General Washington. 


PHILADELPHIA, March 25, 1783. 


I wrote to your Excellency a day or two ago by express. 
Since that, a committee, appointed on the communications from 
you, have had a meeting, and find themselves embarrassed. They 
have requested me to communicate our embarrassments to you 
in confidence, and to ask your private opinion. The army, by 
their resolutions, express an expectation that Congress will not 
disband them previous to a settlement of accounts, and the estab 
lishment of funds. Congress may resolve upon the first, but the 
general opinion is, that they cannot constitutionally declare the 
second. They have no right, by the Confederation, to demand 
funds ; they can only recommend : and to determine, that the 
army shall be continued in service till the States grant them, 
would be to determine, that the whole present army shall be a 
standing army during peace, unless the States comply with the 
requisition for funds. This, it is supposed, would excite the 
alarms and jealousies of the States, and increase, rather than les 
sen, the opposition to the funding scheme. It is also observed, 
that the longer the army is kept together, the more the payment 
of past dues is procrastinated ; the abilities of the States being 


exhausted for their immediate support, and a new debt every 
day incurred. It is further suggested, that there is danger in 
keeping the army together, in a state of inactivity, and that a 
separation of the several lines would facilitate the settlement of 
accounts, diminish present expense, and avoid the danger of 
union. It is added, that the officers of each line, being on the 
spot, might, by their own solicitations, and those of their friends, 
forward the adoption of funds in the different States. 

A proposition will be transmitted to you by Colonel Bland, 
in the form of a resolution, to be adopted by Congress, framed 
upon the principles of the foregoing reasoning. 

Another proposition is contained in the following resolution : 

" That the Commander-in-Chief be informed, it is the inten 
tion of Congress to effect the settlement of the accounts of the 
respective lines previous to their reduction ; and that Congress 
are doing, and will continue to do, every thing in their power 
towards procuring satisfactory securities for what shall be found 
due on such settlement." 

The scope of this your Excellency will perceive without com 

I am to request you will favor me with your sentiments on 
both the propositions ; and, in general, with your ideas of what 
had best be done with reference to the expectation expressed by 
the officers ; taking into view the situation of Congress. On one 
side, the army expect they will not be disbanded till accounts 
are settled and funds established. On the other hand, they have 
no constitutional power of doing any thing more than to recom 
mend funds, and are persuaded that these will meet with moun 
tains of prejudice in some of the States. 

A considerable progress has been made in a plan for funding 
the public debts ; and it is to be hoped it will ere long go forth 
to the States, with every argument that can give it success. 
I have the honor to be, 
With sincere respect, 
Your Excellency's 

Most obedient servant, 

To his Excellency General Washington. 



PHILADELPHIA, March 25, 1783. 


The inclosed I write more in a public than in a private capa 
city. Here I write as a citizen, zealous for the true happiness of 
this country; as a soldier who feels what is due to an army 
which has suffered every thing, and done much for the safety of 

I sincerely wish ingratitude was not so natural to the human 
heart as it is. I sincerely wish there were no seeds of it in those 
who direct the councils of the United States. But while I urge 
the army to moderation, and advise your Excellency to take the 
direction of their discontents, and endeavor to confine them 
within the bounds of duty, I cannot, as an honest man, conceal 
from you, that I am afraid their distrusts have too much founda 
tion. Kepublican jealousy has in it a principle of hostility to an 
army, whatever be their merits, whatever be their claims to the 
gratitude of the community. It acknowledges their services with 
unwillingness, and rewards them with reluctance. I see this 
temper, though smothered with great care, involuntarily breaking 
out upon too many occasions. I often feel a mortification, which 
it would be impolitic to express, that sets my passions at variance 
with my reason. Too many, I perceive, if they could do it with 
safety or color, would be glad to elude the just pretensions of the 
army. I hope this is not the prevailing disposition. 

But supposing the country ungrateful, what can the army do ? 
It must submit to its hard fate. To seek redress by its arms 
would end in its ruin. The army would moulder by its own 
weight, and for want of the means of keeping together : the sol 
diery would abandon their officers : there would be no chance of 
success, without having recourse to means that would reverse our 
revolution. I make these observations, not that I imagine your 
Excellency can want motives to continue your influence in the 
path of moderation ; but merely to show why I cannot, myself, 
enter into the views of coercion which some gentlemen entertain. 

252 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [&T. 26. 

For I confess, could force avail, I should almost wish to see it 
employed. I have an indifferent opinion of the honesty of this 
country, and ill forebodings as to its future system. 

Your Excellency will perceive I have written with sensations 
of chagrin, and will make allowance for coloring : but the general 
picture is too true. God send us all more wisdom. 
I am, with very sincere respect, 
Your Excellency's 

Obedient servant, 

To his Excellency General Washington. 


NEWBURGH, March 31. 1783. 


I have duly received your favors of the seventeenth and 
twenty-fourth ultimo. I rejoice, most exceedingly, that there is 
an end to our warfare ; and that such a field is opening to our 
view, as will, with wisdom to direct the cultivation of it, make 
us a great, a respectable, and happy people : but it must be im 
proved by other means than State politics and unreasonable 
jealousies and prejudices ; or (it requires not the second sight to 
see that) we shall be instruments in the hands of our enemies, 
and those European powers who may be jealous of our greatness 
in union, to dissolve the Confederation. But to attain this, 
although the way seems extremely plain, is not so easy. 

My wish to see the union of these States established upon 
liberal and permanent principles, and inclination to contribute 
my mite in pointing out the defects of the present constitution, 
are equally great. All my private letters have teemed with 
these sentiments ; and whenever this topic has been the subject 
of conversation, I have endeavored to diffuse and enforce them ; 
but how far any further essay, by me, might be productive of the 


wished for end, or appear to arrogate more than belongs to me, 
depends so much upon popular opinion, and the temper and dis 
position of people, that it is not easy to decide. I shall be 
obliged to you, however, for the thoughts which you have 
promised me on this subject, and as soon as you can make it 

No man in the United States, is, or can be, more deeply im 
pressed with the necessity of a reform in our present Confedera 
tion, than myself; no man, perhaps, has felt the bad effects of it 
more sensibly : for, to the defects thereof, and want of powers in 
Congress, may justly be ascribed the prolongation of the war, 
and, consequently, the expenses occasioned by it. More than 
half the perplexities I have experienced in the course of my 
command, and almost the whole of the difficulties and distress of 
the army, have their origin here: but still, the prejudices of 
some, the designs of others, and the mere machinery of the 
majority, make address and management necessary, to give 
weight to opinions which are to combat the doctrines of these 
different classes of men, in the field of politics. 

I would have been more full on this subject, but the bearer 
(in the clothing department) is waiting. I wish you may under 
stand what I have written. 

I am, dear Sir, 

Your most obedient servant, 


To the Hon. Alexander Hamilton. 


NEWBURGH, April 4, 1783. 


The same post which gave me your two letters of the twenty- 
fifth of March, handed me one from Colonel Bland on the same 

Observing that both have been written at the desire of a com- 

VOL. i. 23 

354 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [^T. 26. 

mittee of which you are both members, I have made a very full 
reply to their subject in my letter which is addressed to Colonel 
Bland ; and, supposing it unnecessary to enter into a complete 
detail to both, I must beg leave to refer you to Colonel Eland's 
(a sight of which I have desired him to give you), for a full ex 
planation of my ideas and sentiments. 

I read your private letter of the twenty-fifth with pain, and 
contemplated the picture it had drawn with astonishment and 
horror : but I will yet hope for the best. The idea of redress, by 
force, is too chimerical to have had a place in the imagination of 
any serious mind in this army ; but there is no telling what un 
happy disturbances may result from distress, and distrust of 
justice : and as the fears and jealousies of the army are alive, I 
hope no resolution will be come to, for disbanding or separating 
the lines, till the accounts are liquidated. You may rely upon 
it, sir, that unhappy consequences would follow the attempt. 
The suspicions of the officers are afloat, notwithstanding the 
resolutions which have passed on both sides. Any act, there 
fore, which can be construed into an attempt to separate them 
before the accounts are settled, will convey the most unfavorable 
ideas of the rectitude of Congress : whether well or ill founded, 
matters not; the consequences will be the same. 

I will now, in strict confidence, mention a matter which may 
be useful for you to be informed of. It is, that some men (and 
leading ones, too) in this army, are beginning to entertain sus 
picions that Congress, or some members of it, regardless of the 
past sufferings and present distress, maugre the justice which is 
due to them, and the returns which a grateful people should 
make to men who certainly have contributed, more than any 
other class, to the establishment of Independency, are to be 
made use of as mere puppets to establish Continental funds; 
and that, rather than not succeed in this measure, or weaken 
their ground, they would make a sacrifice of the army and all its 

I have two reasons for mentioning this matter to you : the 
one is, that the army (considering the irritable state it is in, its 
sufferings, and composition) is a dangerous instrument to play 


with ; the other, that every possible means, consistent with their 
own views (which certainly are moderate), should be essayed to 
get it disbanded without delay. I might add a third : it is, that 
the Financier is suspected to be at the bottom of this scheme. If 
sentiments of this sort should become general, their operation 
will be opposed to this plan, at the same time that it would 
increase the present discontents. Upon the whole, disband the 
army as soon as possible, but consult the wishes of it, which 
really are moderate in the mode, and perfectly compatible with 
the honor, dignity, and justice, which is due from the country 
to it. 

I am, with great esteem and regard, 
Dear Sir, your most obedient servant, 

To the Hon. Alexander Hamilton. 


April 11, 1783. 


I have received your Excellency's letters of the thirty -first of 
March, and fourth of April; the last to-day. The one to Colonel 
Bland, as member of the committee, has been read in com 
mittee confidentially, and gave great satisfaction. The idea of 
not attempting to separate the army before the settlement of 
accounts, corresponds with my proposition. That of endeavor 
ing to let them have some pay, had also appeared to me indis 
pensable. The expectations of the army, as represented by 
your Excellency, are moderation itself. To-morrow we confer 
with the Superintendent of Finance on the subject of money. 
There will be difficulty, but not, we hope, insurmountable. 

I thank your Excellency for the hints you are so obliging as 
to give me in your private letter. I do not wonder at the suspi 
cions that have been infused ; nor should I be surprised to hear, 
that I have been pointed out as one of the persons concerned in 

356 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [jEi. 26. 

playing the game described. But facts must speak for them 
selves. The gentlemen who were here from the army, General 
McDougal, who is still here, will be able to give a true account 
of those who have supported the just claims of the army, and of 
those who have endeavored to elude them. 

There are two classes of men, sir, in Congress, of very differ 
ent views : one attached to State, the other to Continental 
politics. The last have been strenuous advocates for funding the 
public debt upon solid securities ; the former have given every 
opposition in their power ; and have only been dragged into the 
measures which are now near -being adopted, by the clamors of 
the army and other public creditors. 

The advocates for Continental funds, have blended the inter 
ests of the army with other creditors, from a conviction, that no 
funds, for partial purposes, will go through those States to 
whose citizens the United States are largely indebted ; or if they 
should be carried through, from impressions of the moment, 
would have the necessary stability : for the influence of those 
unprovided for, would always militate against a provision for 
others, in exclusion of them. It is in vain to tell men, who 
have parted with a large part of their property on the public 
faith, that the services of the army are entitled to a preference : 
they would reason from their interest and their feelings : these 
would tell them, that they had as great a title as any other class 
of the community to public justice ; and that while this was 
denied to them, it would be unreasonable to make them bear 
their part of a burthen for the benefit of others. This is the 
way they would reason ; and as their influence in some of the 
States was considerable, they would have been able to prevent 
any partial provision. 

But the question was not merely how to do justice to the 
creditors, but how to restore public credit. Taxation, in this 
country, it was found, would not supply a sixth part of the 
public necessities. The loans in Europe were far short of the 
balance, and the prospect every day diminishing ; the Court of 
France telling us, in plain terms, she could not even do as much 
as she had done ; individuals in Holland, and every where else, 


refusing to part with their money, on the precarious tenure of 
the mere faith of this country, without any pledge for the pay 
ment either of principal/ or interest. 

In this situation what was to be done ? It was essential to 
our cause, that vigorous efforts should be made to restore public 
credit ; it was necessary to combine all the motives to this end, 
that could operate upon different descriptions of persons in the 
different States : the necessities and discontents of the army pre 
sented themselves as a powerful engine. 

But, sir, these gentlemen would be puzzled to support their 
insinuations by a single fact. It was, indeed, proposed to appro 
priate the intended impost on trade to the army debt ; and, what 
was extraordinary, by gentlemen who had expressed their dis 
like to the principle of the fund. I acknowledge I was one that 
opposed this, for the reasons already assigned, and for these 
additional ones : That was the fund on which we most counted ; 
to obtain further loans in Europe, it was necessary we should 
have a fund sufficient to pay the interest of what had been 
borrowed, and what was to be borrowed. The truth was, these 
people, in this instance, wanted to play off the army against the 
funding system. 

As to Mr. Morris, I will give your Excellency a true expla 
nation of his conduct. He had been for some time pressing 
Congress to endeavor to obtain funds, and had found a great 
backwardness in the business. He found the taxes unproductive 
in the different States ; he found the loans, in Europe, making a 
very slow progress ; he found himself pressed on all hands for 
supplies ; he found himself, in short, reduced to this alternative, 
either of making engagements which he could not fulfil, or de 
claring his resignation in case funds were not established by a 
given time. Had he followed the first course, the bubble must 
soon have burst; he must have sacrificed his credit and his 
character : and public credit, already in a ruinous condition, 
would have lost its last support. 

He wisely judged it better to resign : this might increase the 
embarrassments of the moment ; but the necessity of the case, it 
was to be hoped, would produce the proper measures ; and he 

358 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [l&i. 26. 

might then resume the direction of the machine with advantage 
and success. 

He also had some hope that his resignation would prove a 
stimulus to Congress. 

He was, however, ill advised in the publication of his letters 
of resignation. This was an imprudent step, and has given a 
handle to his personal enemies, who, by playing upon the 
passions of others, have drawn some well-meaning men into the 
cry against him. But Mr. Morris certainly deserves a great 
deal from his country. I believe no man in this country, but 
himself, could have kept the money machine agoing during the 
period he has been in office. From every thing that appears, 
his administration has been upright as well as able. 

The truth is, the old leaven of Deane and Lee, is, at this day, 
working against Mr. Morris. He happened, in that dispute, to 
have been on the side of Deane ; and certain men can never 
forgive him. A man whom I once esteemed, and whom I will 
rather suppose duped than wicked, is the second actor in this 

The matter, with respect to the army, which has occasioned 
most altercation in Congress, and most dissatisfaction in the 
army, has been the half pay. The opinions on this head have 
been two : one party was for referring the several lines to their 
States, to make such commutation as they should think proper ; 
the other, for making the commutation by Congress, and funding 
it on Continental security. I was of this last opinion ; and so 
were all those who will be represented as having made use of 
the army as puppets. Our principal reasons were, Firstly: By 
referring the lines to their respective States, those which were 
opposed to the half pay, would have taken advantage of the 
officers' necessities, to make the commutation far short of an 
equivalent. Secondly : The inequality which would have arisen 
in the different States when the officers came to compare (as has 
happened in other cases), would have been a new source of dis 
content. Thirdly: Such a reference was a continuance of the 
old wretched State system, by which the ties between Congress 
and the army have been nearly dissolved; by which the re- 


sources of the States have been diverted from the common trea 
sury, and wasted ; a system which your Excellency has often 
justly reprobated. 

I have gone into these details, to give you a just idea of the 
parties in Congress. I assure you, upon my honor, sir, I have 
given you a candid state of facts, to the best of my judgment. 
The men against whom the suspicions you mention must be 
directed, are, in general, the most sensible, the most liberal, the 
most independent, and the most respectable characters in our 
body, as well as the most unequivocal friends to the army. In 
a word, they are the men who think continentally. 
I have the honor to be, 

With sincere respect and esteem, 
Your Excellency's 

Most obedient servant, 


P. S. I am chairman of a committee for peace arrange 
ments. We shall ask your Excellency's opinion at large, on a 
proper military peace establishment. I will just hint to your 
Excellency, that our prejudices will make us wish to keep up as 
few troops as possible. 

We this moment learn, an officer is arrived from Sir Guy 
Carjeton with dispatches ; probably official accounts of peace. 

A. H. 

To His Excellency General Washington. 


PHILADELPHIA, April 15, 1783. 


There are two resolutions passed relative to the restoration 
of the British prisoners, and to making arrangements for the sur 
render of the posts in the possession of the British troops ; the 
first of which is to be transacted by you in conjunction with the 

360 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [&T. 26. 

Secretary at War ; the latter by yourself alone. I will explain 
to you some doubts which have arisen in Congress, with regard 
to the true construction of the provisional treaty ; which may be 
of use to you in transacting the buiness above-mentioned. 

The sixth article declares, that there shall be no future con 
fiscations, etc., after the ratification of the Treaty in America and 
the seventh article makes the surrender of prisoners, evacuation of 
posts, cessation of hostilities, etc., to depend on that event, to 
wit, the ratification of the treaty in America. 

Now the doubt is, whether the treaty means the provisional 
treaty already concluded, or the definitive treaty to be concluded. 
The last construction is most agreeable to the letter of the pro 
visional articles ; the former, most agreeable to the usual practice 
of nations : for hostilities commonly cease on the ratification of 
the preliminary treaty. 

There is a great diversity of opinion in Congress. It will be, 
in my opinion, advisable, at the same time that we do not com 
municate our doubts to the British, to extract their sense of the 
matter from them. 

This may be done by asking them, at what periods they are 
willing to stipulate the surrender of posts ; at the same time that 
they are asked, in what manner it will be the most convenient to 
them to receive the prisoners. 

If they postpone the evacuation of the different posts to the 
definitive treaty, we shall then be justified in doing the same 
with respect to prisoners. The question will then arise, Whether, 
on principles of humanity, economy, and liberality, we ought 
not to restore the prisoners, at all events, without delay ? Much 
may be said on both sides. I doubt the expedience of a total 
restoration of prisoners, till they are willing to fix the epochs at 
which they will take leave of us. It will add considerably to 
their strength ; and accidents, though improbable, may happen. 

I confess, however, I am not clear in my opinion. 
I have the honor to be, 

Your Excellency's 

Most obedient servant, 


jE T . 26.] CORRESPONDENCE. 361 

P. S. The provisional or preliminary treaty, is ratified by 
us for the greater caution. 

A. H. 
To His Excellency General Washington. 


NEWBURGH, April 16, 1783. 


My last letter to you was written in a hurry, when I was 
fatigued by the more public, yet confidential, letter, which (with 
several others) accompanied it. Possibly, I did not, on that 
occasion, express myself (in what I intended as a hint) with so 
much perspicuity as I ought : possibly, too, what I then dropped, 
might have conveyed more than I intended ; for I do not, at this 
time, recollect the force of my expression. 

My meaning, however, was only to inform, that there were 
different sentiments in the army, as well as in Congress, respect 
ing Continental and State funds: some wishing to be thrown 
upon their respective States, rather than the Continent at large, 
for payment ; and that, if an idea should prevail, generally, that 
Congress, or part of its members, or ministers, bent upon the 
latter, should delay doing them justice, or hazard it in pursuit 
of their favorite object ; it might create such divisions in the 
army, as would weaken, rather than strengthen, the hands of 
those who were disposed to support Continental measures ; and 
might tend to defeat the end they themselves had in view by 
endeavoring to involve the army. 

For these reasons I said, or meant to say, the army was a 
dangerous engine to work with, as it might be made to cut 
both ways ; and, considering the sufferings of it, would, more 
than probably, throw its weight into that scale which seemed 
most likely to preponderate towards its immediate relief, without 
looking forward (under the pressure of present wants) to future 
consequences with the eyes of politicians. In this light, also, 


I meant to apply my observations to Mr. Morris, to whom, or 

rather to Mr. Gr M , is ascribed, in a great degree, the 

groundwork of the superstructure which was intended to be 
raised in the army by the anonymous addresses. 

That no man can be more opposed to State funds and local 
prejudices than myself, the whole tenor of my conduct has been 
one continual evidence of. No man, perhaps, has had better 
opportunities to see, and to feel, the pernicious tendency of the 
latter than I have; and I endeavor (I hope not altogether 
ineffectually) to inculcate them upon the officers of the army, 
upon all proper occasions : but their feelings are to be attended 
to and soothed ; and they assured, that if Continental funds can 
not be established, they will be recommended to their respective 
States for payment. Justice must be done them. 

I should do injustice to reports, and what I believe to be the 
opinion of the army, were I not to inform you, that they con 
sider you as a friend, zealous to serve them, and one who has 
espoused their interests in Congress, upon every proper occasion. 
It is to be wished, as I observed in my letter to Colonel Bland, 
that Congress would send a committee to the army with pleni 
potentiary powers. The matters requested of me, in your letter 
of the , as chairman of a committee, and many other 

things, might then be brought to a close, with more despatch, 
and in a happier manner, than it is likely they will be by an 
intercourse of letters at the distance of one hundred and fifty 
miles: which takes our Expresses, a week, at least, to go and 
come. At this moment, being without any instructions from 
Congress, I am under great embarrassment with respect to the 
soldiers for the war ; and shall be obliged, more than probably, 
from the necessity of the case, to exercise my own judgment 
without waiting for orders, as to the discharge of them. If I 
should adopt measures which events may approve, all will be 
well. If otherwise, Why and by what authority did you do so ? 

How far a strong recommendation from Congress, to observe 
all the Articles of Peace, as well as the , may imply a 

suspicion of good faith in the people of this country, I pretend 
not to judge : but I am much mistaken, if something of the kind 


will not be found wanting ; as I already perceive a disposition 
to carp at, and to elude, such parts of the treaty as affect their 
different interests ; although you do not find a man, who, when 
pushed, will not acknowledge, that, upon the whole, it is a more 
advantageous Peace than we could possibly have expected. 
I am, dear Sir, 

With great esteem and regard, 

Your most obedient servant, 

To the Hon. Alexander Hamilton. 


NEWBURGH, April 22, 1783. 


I did not receive your letter of the fifteenth, till after my 
return from Eingwood, where I had a meeting with the Sec 
retary at War, for the purpose of making arrangements for the 
release of our prisoners, agreeably to the resolve of Congress of 
the fifteenth instant. 

Finding a diversity of opinion respecting the treaty, and the 
line of conduct we ought to observe with the prisoners, I re 
quested, in precise terms, to know from General Lincoln (before 
I entered on the business), whether we were to exercise our own 
judgment with respect to the time, as well as the mode, of releas 
ing them ; or were to be confined to the latter : being informed 
that we had no option in the first, Congress wishing to be eased 
of the expense as soon as possible, I acted solely on that ground. 

At the same time, I scruple not to confess to you, that if this 
measure was not dictated by necessity, it is, in my opinion, an 
impolitic one ; as we place ourselves in the power of the British, 
before the treaty is definitive. The manner in which Peace was 
first announced, and the subsequent declarations of it, have led 
the country and army into a belief, that it was final. The ratifi 
cation of the preliminary articles, on the third of February, so 


far confirmed this, that one consequence resulting from it, is, the 
soldiers for the war, conceive the term of their services has actu 
ally expired ; and I believe it is not in the power of Congress, or 
their officers, to hold them much, if any, longer ; for we are ob 
liged, at this moment, to increase our guards, to prevent rioting, 
and the insults which the officers meet with, in attempting to 
hold them to their duty. The proportion of these men, amount 
to seven-elevenths of this army : these we shall lose at the mo 
ment the British army will receive, by their prisoners, an aug 
mentation of five or six thousand men. 

It is not for me to investigate the causes which induced this 
measure ; nor the policy of those letters (from authority) which 
gave the ton to the present sentiment ; but since they have been 
adopted, we ought, in my opinion, to put a good face upon mat 
ters ; and, by a liberal conduct throughout, on our part (freed 
from appearances of distrust) try if we cannot excite similar dis 
positions on theirs. Indeed, circumstanced as things now are, 
I wish, most fervently, that all the troops which are not retained 
for a Peace Establishment, were to be discharged immediately, 
or such of them, at least, as do not incline to await the settlement 
of their accounts. If they continue here, their claims, I can 
plainly perceive, will increase; and our perplexities multiply. 
A petition is this moment handed to me, from the non-commis 
sioned officers of the Connecticut line, soliciting half pay. It is 
well drawn, I am told, but I did not read it. I sent it back, 
without appearing to understand the contents, because it did not 
come through the channel of their officers. This may be fol 
lowed by others : and I mention it, to show the necessity, the 
absolute necessity, of. discharging the Warsmen as soon as pos 

I have taken much pains to support Mr. Morris's administra 
tion in the army ; and, in proportion to its numbers, I believe he 
had not more friends any where : but if he will neither adopt the 
mode which has been suggested, point out any other, nor show 
cause why the first is either impracticable or impolitic (I have 
heard he objects to it), they will certainly attribute their disap 
pointment to a lukewarmness in him, or some design incompa- 


tible with their interests. And here, my dear Colonel Hamilton, 
let me assure you, that it would not be more difficult to still the 
raging billows in a tempestuous gale, than to convince the offi 
cers of this army, of the justice, or policy, of paying men, in civil 
offices, full wages, when they cannot obtain a sixtieth part of their 

I am not unapprised of the arguments which are made use of, 
upon this occasion, to discriminate the cases : but they really are 
futile ; and may be summed up in this : that though both are 
contending for the same rights, and expect equal benefits, yet, 
both cannot submit to the same inconveniences to obtain them : 
otherwise, to adopt the language of simplicity and plainness, a 
ration of salt pork, with or without pease, as the case often is, 
would support the one as well as the other ; and, in such a strug 
gle as ours, would, in my opinion, be alike honorable in both. 

My anxiety to get home, increases with the prospect of it. 
But when is it to happen ? I have not heard that Congress have 
yet had under consideration, the lands, and other gratuities, 
which, at different periods of the war, have been promised to the 
army. Do not these things evince the necessity of a committee's 
repairing to camp, in order to arrange and adjust matters with 
out spending time in a tedious exchange of letters? Unless 
something of this kind is adopted, business will be delayed, and 
expenses accumulated; or the army will break up in disorder, 
go home enraged, complaining of injustice, and committing enor 
mities on the innocent inhabitants in every direction. 

I write to you unreservedly. If, therefore, contrary to my 
apprehension, all these matters are in a proper train, and Mr. 
Morris has devised means to give the army three months' pay, 
you will, I am persuaded, excuse my precipitancy and solicitude, 
by ascribing it to an earnest wish to see the war happily and ho 
norably terminated ; to my anxious desire of enjoying some re 
pose ; and the necessity of my paying a little attention to my 
private concerns, which have suffered considerably in eight 
years' absence. 

M'Henry, expressing, in a letter I have lately received from 
him, a wish to be appointed official Secretary to the Court of 

366 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [>ET. 26. 

Versailles, or London, I have, by this opportunity, written to 
Mr. Livingston, and Mr. Madison, speaking of him in warm 
terms ; and wish him success with all my heart. 
I am, dear Sir, 

With great esteem and regard, 

Your most obedient servant, 

Colonel Hamilton. 


PHILADELPHIA, May 14, 1783. 


The President of Congress will of course have transmitted to 
your Excellency, the plan lately adopted by Congress for fund 
ing the public debt. This plan was framed to accommodate it 
to the objections of some of the States; but this spirit of accom 
modation will only serve to render it less efficient, without ma 
king it more palatable. The opposition of the State of Ehode 
Island, for instance, is chiefly founded upon these two considera 
tions : the merchants are opposed to any revenue from trade ; 
and the State, depending almost wholly on commerce, wants to 
have credit for the amount of the duties. 

Persuaded that the plan now proposed will have little more 
chance of success than a better one ; and that, if agreed to by all 
the States, it will, in a great measure, fail in the execution, it re 
ceived my negative. My principal objections were, 

Firstly: That it does not designate the funds (except the im 
post) on which the whole interest is to arise ; and by which (se 
lecting the capital articles of visible property) the collection 
would have been easy, the funds productive, and necessarily in 
creasing with the increase of the country. 

Secondly : That the duration of the funds is not coextensive 
with the debt, but limited to twenty -five years ; though there is 


'- ^ 
a moral certainty, that, in that period, the principal will not, by 

the present provision, be fairly extinguished. 

Thirdly : That the nomination and appointment of the col 
lectors of the revenue are to reside in each State, instead of, at 
least the nomination, being in the United States; the conse 
quence of which will be, that those States which have little inte 
rest in the funds, by having a small share of the public debt due 
to their own citizens, will take care to appoint such persons as 
are least likely to collect the revenue. 

The evils resulting from these defects, will be, that in many 
instances the objects of the revenues will be improperly chosen, 
and will consist of a multitude of little articles, which will, on 
experiment, prove insufficient ; that for want of a vigorous col 
lection in each State, the revenue will be unproductive in many, 
and will fall chiefly upon those States which are governed by 
most liberal principles; that /or want of an adequate security, the 
evidences of the public debt, will not be transferable for any 
thing like their value ; that this not admitting an incorporation 
of the creditors in the nature of Banks, will deprive the public of 
the benefit of an increased circulation, and of course will disable 
the people from paying the taxes for want of a sufficient medium. 

I shall be happy to be mistaken in my apprehensions ; but 
the experiment must determine. 

I hope our State will consent to the plan proposed ; because 
it is her interest, at all events, to promote the payment of the 
public debt on Continental funds (independent of the general 
considerations of union and propriety). 

I am much mistaken if the debts due from the United States 
to the citizens of the State of New- York, do not considerably 
exceed its proportion of the necessary funds : of course it has 
an immediate interest that there should be a Continental pro 
vision for them. But there are superior motives that ought to 
operate in every State ; the obligations of national faith, honor, 
and reputation. 

Individuals have been already too long sacrificed to public 
convenience. It will be shocking, 'and indeed an eternal re 
proach to this country, if we begin the peaceable enjoyment of 

368 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [^Ex. 26. 

our independence by a violation of all the principles of honesty 
and true policy. 

It is worthy of remark, that at least four-fifths of the do 
mestic debt, are due to the citizens of the States (from Penn 
sylvania inclusively) northward. 

I have the honor to be, Sir, 

Your most obedient servant, 


P. S. It is particularly interesting that the State should 
have a representation here. Not only many matters are de 
pending which require a full representation in Congress (and 
there is now a thin one), but those matters are of a nature so 
particularly interesting to our State, that we ought not to be 
without a voice in them. I wish two other gentlemen of the 
delegation may appear as soon as possible ; for it would be very 
injurious for me to remain much longer here. Having no future 
views in public life, I owe it to myself, without delay to enter 
upon the care of my private concerns in earnest. 

A. H. 

To His Excellency Governor Clinton. 


PHILADELPHIA, June 1, 1783. 


In my last letter to your Excellency, I took occasion to 
mention, that it was of great importance to the State, at this 
time, to have a representation here, as points in which, by its 
present situation, it is particularly interested, are daily, and will 
be daily, agitated. 

It is also of importance, at this moment, to the United States ; 
(not only from general considerations, but) because we have a 
very thin representation in Congress, and are frequently unable 
to transact any of those matters which require nine States. I 

vEx. 26.] CORRESPONDENCE. 369 

wish your Excellency would urge a couple of gentlemen to 
come on, as it becomes highly inconvenient to me to remain 
here, and as I have staid the full time to be expected. 

I observe, with great regret, the intemperate proceedings 
among the people in different parts of the State, in violation of 
a treaty, the faithful observance of which so deeply interests the 
United States. 

Surely, the State of New- York, with its capital and its fron 
tier posts (on which its important fur trade depends) in the hands 
of the British troops, ought to take care that nothing is done to 
furnish a pretext on the other side, even for delaying, much less 
for refusing, the execution of the treaty. We may imagine 
that the situation of Great Britain puts her under a necessity, 
at all events, of fulfilling her engagements, and cultivating the 
good will of this country. 

This is, no doubt, her true policy ; but when we feel that 
passion makes us depart from the dictates of reason ; when we 
have seen that passion has had so much influence in the conduct 
of the British Councils, in the whole course of the war ; when 
we recollect, that those who govern them, are men like our 
selves, and alike subject to passions and resentments ; when we 
reflect, also, that all the great men in England are not united in 
the liberal scheme of policy with respect to this country, and 
that in the anarchy which prevails, there is no knowing to 
whom the reins of government may be committed ; when we 
recollect how little in a condition we are, to enforce a compli 
ance with our claims ; we ought, certainly, to be cautious in 
what manner we act, especially when we, in particular, have so 
much at stake ; and should not openly provoke a breach of faith 
on the other side, by setting the example. 

An important distinction is not sufficiently attended to. The 
fifth article is recommendatory ; the sixth positive. There is no 
option, on the part of the particular States, as to any future con 
fiscations, prosecutions, or injuries of any kind, to person, liberty, 
or property, on account of any thing done in the war. It is 
matter of discretion in the States, whether they will comply 
with the recommendations contained in the fifth article ; but no 

VOL. i. 24 


part of the sixth can be departed from by them, without a direct 
breach of public faith, and of the Confederation. The power of 
making treaties is exclusively lodged in Congress. That power 
includes whatever is essential to the termination of the war, and 
to the preservation of the general safety. Indemnity to indi 
viduals in similar cases, is a usual stipulation in treaties of peace, 
of which many precedents are to be produced. 

Should it be said, that the associations of the people, without 
legal authority, do not amount to a breach of the public faith ; 
the answer is, If the government does not repress them, and 
prevent their having effect, it is as much a breach, as a formal 
refusal to comply on its part. In the eye of a foreign nation, if 
our engagements are broken, it is of no moment whether it is 
for the want of good intention in the government, or for want 
of power to restrain its subjects. 

Suppose a violence committed by an American vessel on the 
vessel of another nation, upon the high seas, and after complaint 
made there is no redress given : Is not this a hostility against 
the injured nation which will justify reprisals ? 

But if I am not misinformed, there are violations going on 
in form of law. I am told that indictments continue to be 
brought under the former confiscation laws : A palpable in 
fraction, if true, of the sixth article of the treaty ; to which an 
immediate stop ought, no doubt, to be put. 

It has been said by some men, that the operation of this 
treaty is suspended till the definitive treaty : A plain subterfuge. 
Whatever is clearly expressed in the provisional or preliminary 
treaty, is as binding from the moment it is made, as the definitive 
treaty ; which, in fact, only developes, explains and fixes, more 
precisely, what may have been too generally expressed in the 

Suppose the British should now send away, not only the 
negroes, but all other property, and all the public records in 
their possession belonging to us, on the pretence above stated : 
should we not justly accuse them with breaking faith ? Is this 
not already done in the case of the negroes who have been 
carried away, though founded upon a very different principle, a 

jE-r.26.] CORRESPONDENCE. 371 

doubtful construction of the treaty, not a denial of its imme 
diate operation ? 

In fine, Is it our interest to advance this doctrine, and to 
countenance the position, that nothing is binding till the defi 
nitive treaty, when there are examples of years intervening be 
tween the preliminary and definitive treaties ? 

Sir Guy Carleton, in his correspondence, has appeared to 
consider the treaty as immediately obligatory : and it has been 
the policy which I have pursued, to promote the same idea. 

I am not, indeed, apprehensive of a renewal of the war, for 
peace is necessary to Great Britain. I think it also most pro 
bable, her disposition to conciliate this country will outweigh 
the resentments which a breach of our engagements is calculated 
to inspire. But with a treaty which has exceeded the hopes of 
the most sanguine ; which, in the articles of boundary and the 
fisheries, is even better than we asked; circumstanced, too, as 
this country is, with respect to the means of making war ; I 
think it the height of imprudence to run any risk. Great 
Britain, without recommencing hostilities, may evade parts of 
the treaty. She may keep possession of the frontier posts ; she 
may obstruct the free enjoyment of the fisheries; she may be 
indisposed to such extensive concessions, in matters of com 
merce, as it is our interest to aim at. In all this she would find 
no opposition from any foreign power : and we are not in a con 
dition to oblige her to any thing. If we imagine that France, 
obviously embarrassed herself, in her finances, would renew the 
war to oblige Great Britain to the restoration of frontier posts ; 
or to a compliance with the stipulations respecting the fisheries 
(especially after a manifest breach of the treaty on our part) ; 
we speculate much at random. Observations might be made on 
the last article, which would prove, that it is not the policy of 
France to support our interest there. Are we prepared, for the 
mere gratification of our resentments, to put those great national 
objects to the hazard; to leave our western frontier in a state of 
insecurity ; to relinquish the fur trade ; and to abridge our pre 
tensions to the fisheries? Do we think national character so 
light a thing, as to be willing to sacrifice the public faith to indi 
vidual animosity ? 


Let the case be fairly stated : Great Britain and America, 
two independent nations, at war. The former in possession of 
considerable posts and districts of territory, belonging to the lat 
ter ; and also of the means of obstructing certain commercial ad 
vantages in which it is deeply interested. 

But it is not -uncommon, in treaties of peace, for the uti possi- 
detis to take place. Great Britain, however, in the present in 
stance, stipulates to restore all our posts and territories in her 
possession. She even adds an extent, not within our original 
claims, more than a compensation for a small part ceded in ano 
ther quarter. She agrees to re-admit us to a participation in the 
fisheries. What equivalent do we give for this ? Congress are 
to recommend the restoration of property to those who have ad 
hered to her ; and expressly engage, that no future injury shall 
be done them, in person, liberty, or property. This is the sole 
condition, on our part, where there is not an immediate recipro 
city (the recovery of debts, and liberation of prisoners, being 
mutual ; the former, indeed, only declaring what the rights of 
private faith, which all civilized nations hold sacred, would have 
declared without it), and stands as the single equivalent for all 
the restitutions and concessions to be made by Great Britain. 
Will it be honest in us to violate this condition, or will it be 
prudent to put it in competition with all the important matters 
to be performed on the other side ? 

Will foreign nations be willing to undertake any thing with 
us, or for us, when they find that the nature of our governments 
will allow no dependence to be placed upon our engagements ? 
I have omitted saying any thing of the impolicy of inducing, by 
our severity, a great number of useful citizens, whose situations 
do not make them a proper object of resentment, to abandon the 
country, to form settlements that will hereafter become our ri 
vals, animated .with a hatred to us, which will descend to their 
posterity. Nothing, however, can be more unwise than to con 
tribute, as we are doing, to people the shores and wilderness of 
Nova Scotia ; a colony 'which, by its position, will become a com 
petitor with us, among other things, in that branch of commerce 
on which our navigation and navy will essentially depend: I 

jEi. 26.] CORRESPONDENCE. 373 

mean the fisheries ; in which, I have no doubt, the State of New 
York will, hereafter, have a considerable share. 

To your Excellency I freely deliver my sentiments, because 
I am persuaded you cannot be a stranger to the force of these 
considerations. I fear not even to hazard them to the justice 
and good sense of those whom I have the honor to represent. I 
esteem it my duty to do it, because the question is important to 
the interests of the State, in its relation to the United States. 

Those who consult only their passions, might choose to con 
strue what I say, as too favorable to a set of men who have been 
the enemies of the public liberty : but those for whose esteem I 
am most concerned, will acquit me of any personal considera 
tions ; and will perceive that I only urge the cause of national 
honor, safety, and advantage. We have assumed an independent 
station : we ought to feel, and to act, in a manner consistent 
with the dignity of that station. 

I anxiously wish to see every prudent measure taken to pre 
vent those combinations which will certainly disgrace us, if they 
do not involve us in other calamities. Whatever distinctions are 
judged necessary to be made, in the cases of those persons who 
have been in opposition to the common cause, let them be made 
by legal authority, on a fair construction of the treaty, consistent 
with national faith and national honor. 

Your Excellency will have been informed, that Congress 
have instructed General Washington to garrison the frontier 
posts, when surrendered, with the three years' Continental troops. 
This is more for the interest of the State, than to have them gar 
risoned at its particular expense : and I should wish that perma 
nent provision might be made on the same principle. I wait to 
see whether any Continental peace establishment for garrisons, 
etc., will take place, before I engage the consent of Congress to a 
separate provision. 

I cannot forbear adding a word on the subject of money. The 
only reliance we now have for redeeming a large anticipation on 
the public credit, already made, and making, for the benefit of 
the army, is on the taxes coming in. The collection, hitherto, is 
out of all proportion to the demand. It is of vast consequence, at 


this juncture, that every thing possible should be done to forward 
it. I forbear entering into details which would be very striking 
upon this subject. I will only say, that unless there is a serious 
exertion in the States, public credit must ere long receive another 
shock very disagreeable in its consequences. 
I have the honor to be, 
With perfect respect, 
Your Excellency's 

Most obedient servant, 

To His Excellency Governor Clinton. 




Having always entertained an esteem for you personally, I 
could not, without reluctance, yield to impressions that might 
weaken that sentiment : and it is with pain I find myself drawn, 
by circumstances, to animadvert upon the late message from the 
Executive Council to the Assembly of Pennsylvania relative to 
the mutiny, in a manner which may seem to impeach the candor 
of those who were the authors of it. 

But it will be impossible for persons who have read the re 
port of the committee, and the message of the Council, however 
inclined to make allowances for the force of involuntary bias, 
not to conclude, that on one side or the other, the facts have been 
wilfully discolored. I decline any attempt to set the public 
opinion right upon this subject ; because, after all that can be 
said, the judgments of men will eventually be determined by 
personal and party prepossessions. So far as I am concerned, 
I persuade myself those who are acquainted with me, will place 
entire confidence in my fairness and veracity. I doubt not your 
Excellency's friends will be equally partial to you, and those of 
the Council to them. But though I should despair of rectifying 
or fixing the public opinion, by an appeal to the public ; and 


though I have seen too much of the ridicule thrown upon such 
appeals, from men in official stations, and of the ill effect they 
have had upon the national character, not to be willing to sacri 
fice the desire of justifying myself to considerations of prudence 
and propriety ; yet I cannot forbear indulging my feelings so 
far as to enter into a few explanations with your Excellency ; 
submitting the justness of them to the testimony of your own 

As this is a mere private discussion, I address myself to your 
Excellency in particular ; and the rather, as, from the style and 
manner of the message, I take it for granted you had the prin 
cipal agency in it : and I shall consider, on the same grounds, 
the notes in * paper of the *, 

as a comment on the report of the committee by yourself, in aid 
of the message. 

I take up the matter individually, because I mean to treat 
it on a private footing ; and because, though I do not acknow 
ledge any peculiar responsibility, it happened to be my lot, as 
chairman, principally to conduct the conferences on the part 
of the committee. 

I regard the whole of this business as a most unfortunate 
one ; in which, probably, none of the actors will acquire great 
credit. I deplore it, as tending to interrupt the harmony be 
tween Congress and a respectable, a meritorious member of the 
Union. Who were right, or who were wrong, is a question of 
less importance, than how mutual irritations may be best healed. 
"Whatever revives, or continues, the former, is to be regretted. 
I lament to be under an inducement to discuss circumstances 
that relate to it in the remotest degree. Nothing but an attack 
upon the ingenuousness of my conduct, could have called me to 
it. Its prudence, either collectively or individually, would 
patiently have been consigned to the lash of censure and criti 
cism, merited or unmerited. 

Happily, in the present case, the members of the committee 
have a strong ground, from which they cannot easily be forced. 

* These blanks are in the manuscript. 

HAMILTON'S WORKS. [1& T . 26. 

Apprehensive of misconception, I will not say of misrepresenta 
tion, they tried to render it impossible by written documents. 
The presumption, with impartial minds, cannot fail to be in favor 
of that side which gave so decisive a proof of its disposition to 
fairness, as to endeavor to put it out of its own power to misre 

The professed scruples of the Council, cannot be admitted to 
have any weight. Usage, and the plainest rules of propriety, 
will dictate, that it never could have wounded the dignity, or 
delicacy, of the executive of any State, to have given to a com 
mittee of Congress, appointed to confer on a subject of moment, 
a written answer to a request in writing after previous explana 
tions. The fact stated speaks for itself. The consequences 
show, that the precaution of the committee was well judged; 
and that it would have been well for the Council to have con 

In the present case it might be observed, that there was, 
in the first instance, a written application from Congress to 
the Council, in the customary form of resolutions : and though a 
committee was authorized to confer and explain, a formal and 
authentic answer might reasonably have been expected by Con 
gress ; and, when desired by the committee, should have been 
understood as desired on their behalf. 

There is an awkwardness in reasoning upon self-evident posi 
tions; but as the Council have, by their conduct in the first 
instance, and by their message since, put forward a doubt upon 
the subject, and made it a point of importance, I shall be excused 
for examining it a little further. On what could the objection of 
the Council be founded ? They say it had been unusual. Ad 
mitting the fact, was the mere novelty of the thing a sufficient 
reason against it ? If there was no apparent inconvenience in 
making a new precedent ; if, on the contrary, there was a mani 
fest convenience in it ; ought not such a punctilio to have given 
way to considerations of utility ? 

Was it derogatory to the dignity of the Council ? Surely, if 
they communicate in writing with the executive servants of Con 
gress, even those in subordinate stations, as is the practice of 



every day, and as is indispensable to the prosecution of public 
business, they might, at less expense of dignity, pursue the same 
mode with a part of that body itself. 

The distinction taken by the Council, in their message to the 
Assembly, respecting the responsibility of such executive officers, 
as not applicable to a committee, if it amounts to any thing, 
proves only this : That such officers ought, in prudence, to take 
greater precautions for their own justification than a committee 
of Congress need to do. It is not to be inferred, if a committee of 
Congress, acting ministerially, think it expedient to use circum 
spection, that those with whom they are transacting business, 
can, with propriety, refuse to join with them in that mode which 
is best adapted to precision and certainty. 

But, indeed, the ground of distinction is erroneous. A com 
mittee of Congress act in a ministerial capacity, and are there 
fore responsible to the body to which they belong, as well as the 
servants of that body, though in a different manner. If it be 
said they do not act ministerially, but stand in the place of Con 
gress ; then the Council, upon their own principles, ought to 
have complied with their request. 

To diminish the exceptionableness of their refusal, it is true, 
as stated by the Council, that though they said they could not 
condescend to do what the committee had asked ; yet they de 
clared themselves willing to grant an answer in writing, if Con 
gress should request it ; and that they proposed, that the com 
mittee should put their verbal answer in writing, to be after 
wards perused and examined by them. 

The answer of the committee, as I doubt not your Excellency 
will recollect, was, as to the first point, that Congress in all prob 
ability would not make the request, having determined (as the 
Council had been already informed) not to resume their delijpe- 
rations in the city, till effectual measures had been taken to sup 
press the mutiny ; and should they assemble, would naturally 
feel a delicacy in requesting what had been denied to their com 
mittee. And as to the second point, that the Council having judged 
it inexpedient to give a written answer, the committee would 
content themselves with making the most accurate report in their 

378 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [Mi. 26. 


power, relying upon the confidence of the body to which they 
belonged, and upon the candor of the Council. 

Your Excellency is too good a judge of human nature, as well 
as of the force of language, not to have perceived at the time, the 
effect which the refusal of the Council had upon my mind. I 
own it struck me, either as an uncandid reserve, or an unbecoming 
stateliness ; and, in either supposition, a disrespect to the body of 
which the committee were members. 

Though nothing enters less into my temper than an inclina 
tion to fetter business by punctilio, after the Council had disco 
vered such overweening nicety, I should have thought it a de 
gradation to my official character, to have consented to their pro 

The desire of self-justification is so natural, that I should not 
have been surprised to have seen the transactions which are 
the subject of the Council's message, receive a coloring favorable 
to their purpose : but I did not expect to find material facts either 
suppressed or denied. 

The report made by the committee on the first interview with 
the Council, was, I acknowledge, from memory, and therefore I 
admit a possibility of error ; but, so far as my memory can be 
relied on, the representation was just. And I am certain that 
there is a mistake in the insinuation, that the circumstance of the 
message sent to Congress by the Board of Sergeants, was not 
mentioned at all to the Council ; for I have a note of it, taken 
immediately after the first conference subsequent to the mutiny. 
The affair, by the event of , having assumed a more 

serious aspect, I kept a regular minute of the proceedings ; a 
summary of which, made up our report to Congress, and which I 
shall annex, at large, to this letter for your Excellency's perusal. 
^The message entirely omits the declaration of the Council, 

and the note says, that the Council only declared, " That they 
* This blank is in the manuscript. 


could not be sure, that such another insult would produce those 
exertions."* The difference in this article is of great impor 
tance. The declaration made so deep an impression at the time, 
that almost the precise words remained in my memory. They 
were twice repeated, as well when we saw your Excellency alone, 
in your own house, in the morning, as when you delivered to us, 
in the Council chamber, the determination of the Council. 

Mr. Ellsworthf, in half an hour afterwards, repeated them to 
several members of Congress assembled at the President's house ; 
and in a few hours from that time I committed them to writing. 
I cannot suppose your Excellency's recollection fails you in this 
particular ; and I must pointedly appeal to your candor. 

To show the inaccuracy with which the report of the commit 
tee was composed, it is observed, in the notes with respect to that 
part which relates to the commission given by the mutineers to 
the officers whom they had chosen to represent them, that only 
two hours had intervened between that event and the conference 
with the Council ; and that it was very improbable the knowledge 
of it could have so early reached the committee. It is added, 
that none of the Council remembers to have heard a single syl 
lable respecting it, during the whole conference. 

As to the argument drawn from the short interval between 
the delivery of the commission and the conference, it will be suf 
ficient to say, that the committee held a constant communication 
with General St. Clair, and that he kept a vigilant eye upon all 
the motions of the mutineers ; that his access to them was easy ; 
that the fact in question was a matter of immediate notoriety ; 
that two hours were abundant time for a thing of that nature to 
be conveyed from the barracks to General St. Clair's quarters ; 
and that one of the committee had actually seen, and obtained 
the intelligence from him, a little time before the interview with 
the Council commenced. 

It is much more extraordinary that the Council should have 

* "The words, as reported by the committee to Congress, were, ' It,' i. e., the 
arming of the citizens to suppress the mutineers, ' was not to be expected, merely 
from a repetition of the insult which had happened.' " NOTE BY COL. PICKERING. 
" Mr. Ellsworth was the other member of the committee. T. P." 


been apprised of it so late, than that the committee should have 
known it so early. As to the memory of the Council, it is un 
fortunate it should have been so fallible as it is said to have been : 
but I would rather suppose, "in the quick succession of circum 
stances," the matter had escaped recollection, than that my min 
utes, as well as my memory, should have deceived me. I well 
recollect, also, that your Excellency, when it was mentioned, ac 
knowledged that it rather contradicted the pacific appearance 
which the conduct of the troops, in other respects, wore. 

These are the essential differences, in point of fact, between 
the report of the committee, and the message of Council : the 
whole complexion, indeed, of one, materially varies from the 
other ; Lut the most common observer must have noticed, how 
different an aspect the same facts will bear, differently dressed 
and arranged. It was to avoid this, we proposed to reduce them 
to writing: but as this has not been done, spectators must judge, 
from the situation of the parties, and the course of the transac 
tions, which side has given the justest relation. 

I cannot, however, forbear remarking, that I see expressions 
of civility, on the part of the committee, making a figure in the 
message, very different from their genuine intention ; being in 
troduced in a manner that gives them the air of concessions in 
favor of the conduct of the Council. Your Excellency will cer 
tainly recollect, that the committee were very remote from a con 
currence in sentiment with the Council ; and though they did not 
presume to judge of the disposition of the citizens, strongly 
urged the expedience and necessity of calling out the militia, and 
facility of employing them with success against an unofncered 
and disorderly body of mutinous soldiers. It is true, also, that 
they acknowledged the candor with which the Council exposed 
to them, what they deemed the temper of their citizens, and 
their own difficulties and embarrassments ; which were, no doubt, 
delineated with great energy of language, and display of circum 
stances : but they certainly never admitted the candor of refu 
sing an answer in writing, which was a part of the business 
transacted with the Council; nor did they withdraw, without 
giving an intelligible intimation of their sense of this proceeding. 


I was also surprised to see any part of the private and confi 
dential conversation I had with your Excellency, ushered into 
the message from the Council ; and moulded into such a shape } 
as to imply, by an obvious construction, an approbation of their 
reasons. Your Excellency will admit the following state of this 
transaction to be a just one. 

I waited upon the Council to correct a piece of information I 
had given them respecting ammunition : but even this is mis 
stated, as will be seen by my minutes. Having done this, my 
official business ended ; when I was taken aside by your Excel 
lency, and a conversation passed in declared confidence. You 
informed me, that a meeting of the militia officers was then hold 
ing, and in consultation with the Council about eventual mea 
sures (in consequence, as I conjectured, of a communication to 
you, the preceding evening, from the delegates of the State, of 
the intention of Congress to remove from the city, in case they 
did not receive satisfactory assurances of support). You added, 
that you hoped nothing would be precipitated ; but that proper 
allowances would be made for the situation of the Council. 

I understood your observations with reference to the depart 
ure of Congress, and replied to this effect : That I viewed the 
departure of Congress as a delicate measure, including conse 
quences important to the national character abroad, and critical 
with respect to the State of Pennsylvania, and, in particular, the 
city of Philadelphia ; that the triumph of a handful of mutinous 
soldiers, permitted in a place which is considered as the capital 
of America, to surround, and, in fact, imprison Congress, with 
out the least effort, on the part of the citizens, to uphold their 
dignity and authority, so as to oblige them to remove from the 
place which had been their residence during the Kevolution, 
would, it was to be feared, be viewed at a distance, as a general 
disaffection of the citizens to the Federal Government ; might 
discredit its negotiations, and affect the national interests : that, 
at home, it might give a deep wound to the reputation of Penn 
sylvania ; might draw upon it the resentments of the other 
States, and sow discord between Congress and the State ; that 
the removal of Congress would probably bring the affair to a 

382 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [Mi. 26. 

crisis ; and, by convincing the mutineers that extremities were 
intended, would either intimidate them into a submission, or 
determine them to immediate excesses ; that, impressed with 
these considerations, and still hoping, notwithstanding some 
appearances to the contrary, that the mutineers might be sincere 
in their professions of submission, or that the Council, on further 
examination, would find it in their power to act with vigor, I 
had declined giving my assent to a report in writing, which 
would necessarily be followed by the departure of Congress; 
that though the committee had no discretion, by the powers 
under which they acted, but were bound by the tenor of their 
instructions, the moment they did not receive "satisfactory 
assurances of prompt and adequate exertions, on the part of the 
State, for supporting the public authority," to advise the adjourn 
ment of Congress to Trenton or Princeton ; and I therefore con 
sidered the delay of this advice as at their extreme peril ; yet, as 
to myself, I should persist in it, till the result of the present con 
sultation with the militia officers, or till some new circumstance 
should turn up, to explain the designs of the mutineers ; and in 
pursuing this line of conduct, I should counteract the sense of 
some gentlemen, whose feelings upon the occasion were keen, 
and the opinions of others, who thought the situation of Con 
gress, under the existing circumstances, extremely awkward, 
precarious, and unjustifiable to their constituents. 

Your Excellency approved my intention ; wished for time ; 
and promised, if any new resolution should be taken, to give me 
immediate notice of it. 

The meeting of the militia officers dissolved. I heard nothing 
from your Excellency. General St. Clair, about two in the 
afternoon, informed the committee, that the officers appointed by 
the soldiers to manage their business, had, in the first instance, 
refused to give him an account of their transactions ; the which 
was only extracted from them by a peremptory demand. He 
mentioned to us the instructions they had received from the 
soldiers, which contained faint and affected concessions, mixed 
with new and inadmissible claims. 

The whole affair wore the complexion of collusion between 


the officers of the committee and the soldiery ; and of a mere 
amusement on their part, till they could gain fresh strength and 
execute their project, whatever it might be, with greater advan 

This behavior of the officers gave the affair a new and more 
serious aspect, and overcame my opposition to the report. Mr. 
Peters, on hearing the relation of General St. Clair, declared, at 
once, that he thought the committee had then no alternative ; at 
least, what he said was understood in this sense by General St. 
Clair, Mr. Ellsworth, and myself. If I am not much mistaken, 
General St. Clair also expressed his opinion that Congress were 
unsafe in the city. 

The ideas I suggested to your Excellency, in the conversa 
tion I have mentioned, were substantially expressed to several 
members of Congress as the motives of my delay ; and particu 
larly, I recollect, to Mr. Madison, with these observations in 
addition : That though I was fully convinced Congress, under 
an immediate view of circumstances, would, in reality, be justi 
fied in withdrawing from a place where such an outrage to gov 
ernment had been with impunity perpetrated, by a body of 
armed mutineers, still, for several days, in complete command of 
the city, and where either the feebleness of public councils, or the 
indisposition of the citizens, afforded no assurance of protection 
and support; yet, as the opinions of men would be governed by 
events, and as the most probable event was, that the removal of 
Congress, announcing decisive measures of coercion to the sol 
diery, would awe them into submission, there was great danger 
that the reputation of Congress would suffer by the easy termina 
tion of the business ; and that they would be accused of levity, 
timidity, or rashness. 

Though not within the scope of my original intention, I will 
indulge a few additional reflections on this subject. I am sensi 
ble that the Council, in some respects, stand upon advantageous 
ground in this discussion. Congress left the city, because they 
had no forces at hand, no jurisdiction over the militia, and no 
assurances of effectual support from those who had. The Coun 
cil, as the Executive of the State, were necessitated to remain 

384 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [^Ei. 26. 

on the spot. Soon after Congress removed, the mutineers were 
deserted by their leaders, and surrendered at discretion. 

The multitude will be very apt to conclude, that the affair 
was of trifling consequence ; that it vanished under its own in. 
significance ; that Congress took up the matter in too high a 
tone of authority ; that they discovered a prudish nicetv and 
irritability about their own dignity : that Council were more 
temperate, more humane, and possessed of greater foresight. 

The bias in favor of an injured army ; the propensity of the 
human mind to lean to the speciousness of professed humanity, 
rather than to the necessary harshness of authority ; the vague 
and imperfect notions of what is due to public authority, in an 
infant popular government ; and the insinuating plausibility of 
a well-constructed message ; will all contribute to that conclu 

But let us suppose an impartial man of sense, well acquainted 
with facts, to form an argument upon the subject. It appears to 
me, he might naturally fall into this train of combination. 

It is a well known fact, that, from the necessities of the war, 
or the delinquencies of the several States, Congress were not 
enabled to comply with their engagements to the army, which, 
after a glorious and successful struggle for their country, much 
suffering, exemplary patience, and signal desert, they were com 
pelled, by the irresistible dictates of an empty treasury and a 
ruined credit, to disband, after having given strong indications 
of their discontent, and resentment of the public neglect. A 
large part of the army suffer themselves to be patiently dis 
missed ; a particular corps of four or five hundred men, sta 
tioned in the place where Congress reside, refuse to accept their 
discharges but on certain specified conditions. 

They even go further, and, stimulated by their injuries, or 
encouraged and misled by designing persons, are emboldened 
to send a threatening message to Congress, declaring to them, 
that unless they would do them justice immediately, they would 
find means of redress for themselves. Measures are indirectly 
taken to appease this disorder, and give the discontented soldiers 


as much satisfaction as the situation of things will permit. 
Shortly after, accounts are received, that another corps, at 
miles distance, have also mutinied ; and that a part of them, to 
the number of about eighty men, are on their march to join 
those who had already discovered so refractory a disposition. 
A committee of Congress is immediately appointed to confer 
with the Executive of the State, on the measures proper to be 
pursued in this exigency. That committee, in the first instance, 
suggest to the Council, the expedience of calling out a body of 
militia, to intercept the detachment of mutineers on its march, 
and represent the danger of the progress of the spirit of mutiny, 
and of future outrages, should those on their march be suffered, 
without molestation, to join a more numerous corps in the same 
temper with themselves. 

The Council urge a variety of difficulties : the shortness of 
the time to collect the militia before the mutineers would arrive ; 
the reluctance with which the citizens would obey a call against 
men whom they consider as meritorious, and injured, and the 
like. The committee, perceiving the unwillingness of the Coun 
cil to employ the militia, desist from pressing, and recur to ex 
pedients. The day after, the mutineers march in triumph into 
the city, and unite themselves with those who are already there ; 
and the following day, the whole body assemble in arms, throw 
off all obedience to their officers, and, in open defiance of gov 
ernment, march to the place which is the usual seat of Congress 
and the Council of the State, while both are actually sitting ; 
surround it with guards, and send a message to the Council, de 
manding authority to appoint, themselves, officers to command 
them, with absolute discretion to take such measures as those 
officers should think proper, to redress their grievances ; accom 
panied with a threat, that if there was not a compliance in 
twenty minutes, they would let in an injured soldiery upon 
them, and abide the consequence. 

The members of Congress who were at the time assembled, 

request General St. Clair, who happened to be present, to take 

such measures as he should judge expedient, without committing 

the honor of government, to divert the storm, and induce the 

VOL. i. 25 

386 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [ISi. 26. 

troops to return to their quarters without perpetrating acts of 
violence. General St. Glair, in concert with the Council, grants 
the mutineers permission to elect, out of officers then, or for 
merly, in commission, such as they should confide in, to repre 
sent their grievances to the Council, with a promise, that the 
Council would confer with the persons elected for that purpose. 
Having obtained this promise, the mutineers return to their 
quarters, in military parade, and continue in open defiance of 

The concession made was a happy compromise between an 
attention to dignity, and a prudent regard to safety, 

Men who had dared to carry their insolence to such an ex 
treme, and who saw no opposition to their outrages, were not to 
be expected to retreat without an appearance, at least, of grati 
fying their demands. The slightest accident was sufficient to 
prompt men, in such a temper and situation, to tragical excesses. 

But however it might become the delicacy of government not 
to depart from the promise it had given, it was its duty to pro 
vide effectually against a repetition of such outrages ; and to 
put itself in a situation to give, instead of receiving, the law ; 
and to manifest that its compliance was not the effect of neces 
sity, but of choice. 

This was not to be considered as the disorderly riot of an 
unarmed mob, but as the deliberate mutiny of an incensed 
soldiery, carried to the utmost point of outrage short of assassi 
nation. The licentiousness of an army is to be dreaded in every 
government; but, in a republic, it is more particularly to be 
restrained ; and when directed against the civil authority, to be 
checked with energy, and punished with severity. The merits 
and sufferings of the troops might be a proper motive for miti 
gating punishment, when it was in the power of the government 
to inflict it ; but it was no reason for relaxing in the measures 
necessary to put itself in that situation. Its authority was first 
to be vindicated, and then its clemency to be displayed. 

The rights of government are as essential to be defended, as 
the rights of individuals. The security of the one is insepara 
ble from that of the other. And, indeed, in every new govern- 


ment, especially of the popular kind, the great danger is, that 
public authority will not be sufficiently respected. 

But upon this occasion, there were more particular reasons 
for decision. 

Congress knew there were, within two or three days' march 
of the city, a more considerable body of the same corps, part of 
which had mutinied and come to town, and had been the chief 
actors in the late disorder ; that those men had, with difficulty, 
been kept, by the exertions of their officers, from joining the in 
surgents in the first instance ; that there was another corps in 
their neighborhood which, a little time before, had also disco 
vered symptoms of mutiny ; that a considerable part of the same 
line which were in mutiny in town, was every moment expected 
to arrive from the southward, and, there was the greatest reason 
to conclude, would be infected with the same spirit, on their 
arrival, as had presently happened in the case of a small detach 
ment which had joined a few days before ; that there were, be 
sides, large numbers of disbanded soldiers, scattered through the 
country, in want, and who had not yet had time to settle down 
to any occupation, and exchange their military for private habits ; 
that some of these were really coming in, and adding themselves 
to the revolters ; that an extensive accession of strength might 
be gained from these different quarters ; and that there were all 
the sympathies of like common wrongs, distresses, and resent 
ments, to bring them together, and to unite them in one cause. 
The partial success of those who had already made an experi 
ment, would be a strong encouragement to others ; the rather, 
as the whole line had formerly mutinied, not only with impunity, 
but with advantage to themselves. 

In this state of things, decision was most compatible with the 
safety of the community, as well as the dignity of government. 
Though no general convulsion might be to be apprehended, 
serious mischiefs might attend the progress of the disorder. In 
deed, it would have been meanness, to have negotiated and tem 
porized with an armed banditti of four or five hundred men ; 
who, in any other situation than surrounding a defenceless sen 
ate, could only become formidable by being feared. This was 

388 HAMILTON'S WORKS. ^T. 26. 

not an insurrection of a whole people : it was not an army with 
their officers at their head, demanding the justice of their 
country ; either of which might have made caution and conces 
sion respectable : it was a handful of mutinous soldiers, who had 
equally violated the laws of discipline, as the rights of public 

Congress, therefore, wisely resolve, that " it is necessary that 
effectual measures be immediately taken for supporting the pub 
lic authority;" and call upon the State in which they reside, for 
the assistance of its militia, at the same time that they send 
orders for the march of a body of regular forces as an eventual 

There was a propriety in calling for the aid of the militia in 
the first place, for different reasons. Civil government may 
always, with more peculiar propriety, resort to the aid of the 
citizens, to repel military insults or encroachments. 

'Tis there, it ought to be supposed, where it may seek its 
surest dependence, especially in a democracy, which is the crea 
ture of the people. The citizens of each State are, in an aggre 
gate light, the citizens of the United States, and bound, as much 
to support the representatives of the whole, as their own imme 
diate representatives. The insult was not to Congress personally ; 
it was to the government, to public authority in general ; and 
was very properly put upon that footing. The regular forces, 
which Congress could command, were at a great distance, and 
could not, but in a length of time, be brought to effectuate their 
purpose. The disorder continued to exist on the spot where 
they were ; was likely to increase by delay ; and might be pro 
ductive of sudden and mischievous effects by being neglected. 

The city and the Bank were in immediate danger of being 
rifled ; and, perhaps, of suffering other calamities. The citizens, 
therefore, were the proper persons to make the first exertion. 

The objection, that these were not the objects of the care of 
Congress, can only serve to mislead the vulgar. The peace and 
safety of the place which was the immediate residence of Con 
gress, endangered, too, by the troops of the United States, demanded 
their interposition. The President of the State of Pennsylvania 


was himself of this opinion ; having declared to a member of 
that body, that as their troops were the offenders, it was proper 
for them to declare the necessity of calling out the militia, as a 
previous step to its being done. 

Nor is there more weight in the supposition that the danger 
was inconsiderable ; and that, from the pacific appearances of the 
troops, it was to be expected, the disorder would subside of 
itself. The facts were, that the troops still continued in a state 
of mutiny ; had made no submissions, nor offered any ; and that 
they affected to negotiate with their arms in their hands. 

A band of mutinous soldiers, in such a situation, uncon 
trolled, and elated with their own power, was not to be trusted. 

The most sudden vicissitudes and contradictory changes were 
to be expected ; and a fit of intoxication was sufficient, at any 
moment, with men who had already gone such length, to make 
the city a scene of plunder and massacre. It was the height 
of rashness to leave the city exposed to the bare possibility of 
such mischiefs. -.-4. A 

The only question, in this view, is, Whether there was 
greater danger to the city, in attempting their reduction by 
force, than in endeavoring, by palliatives, to bring them /to a 
sense of duty ? It has been urged, and appeared to have ope 
rated strongly upon the minds of the Council,* that the soldiers 
being already embodied, accustomed to arms, and ready to act at 
a moment's warning, it would be extremely hazardous to attempt 
to collect the citizens to subdue them, as the mutineers might 
have taken advantage of the first confusion incident to the 
measure, to do a great deal of mischief, before this militia could 
have assembled in equal or superior force. 

It is not to be denied, but that a small body of disciplined 
troops, headed and led by their officers, with a plan of conduct, 
could have effected a great deal in similar circumstances ; but it 
is equally certain, that nothing can be more contemptible, than 
a body of men, used to be commanded and to obey, when de- 

* Your Excellency will recollect, that, in our private conversation, you urged 
this consideration, and appealed to my military experience ; and that I made, sub 
stantially, the observations which follow. 


prived of the example and direction of their officers. They are 
infinitely less to be dreaded than an equal number of men who 
have never been broken to command, nor exchanged their 
natural courage for that artificial kind which is the effect of dis 
cipline and habit. Soldiers transfer their confidence from them 
selves to their officers, face danger by the force of example, the 
dread of punishment, and the sense of necessity. Take away 
these inducements and leave them to themselves, they are no 
longer resolute than till they are opposed. 

In the present case, it was to be relied upon, that the appear 
ance of opposition would instantly bring the mutineers to a 
sense of their insignificance, and to submission. Conscious of 
their weakness, from the smallness of their numbers ; in a popu 
lous city, and in the midst of a populous country ; awed by the 
consequences of resisting government by arms, and confounded 
by the want of proper leaders and proper direction ; the com 
mon soldiers would have thought of nothing but making their 
peace by the sacrifice of those who had been the authors of their 

The idea, therefore, of coercion, was the safest and most pru 
dent: for more was to be apprehended from leaving them to 
their own passions, than from attempting to control them by 
force. It will be seen, by and by, how far the events, justly 
appreciated, corresponded with this reasoning. 

Congress were not only right in adopting measures of coer 
cion ; but they were also right in resolving to change their situa 
tion, if proper exertions were not made by the particular govern 
ment and citizens of the place where they resided. The want of 
such exertions would evince some defect, no matter where, that 
would prove they ought to have no confidence in their situation. 
They were, to all intents and purposes, in the power of a law 
less, armed banditti, enraged, whether justly, or not, against 
them. However they might have had a right to expose their 
own persons to insult and outrage, they had no right to expose 
the character of representatives, or the dignity of the States they 
represented, or of the Union. It was plain, they could not, with 
propriety, in such a state of things, proceed in their deliberations 


where they were ; and it was right they should repair to a place 
where they could do it. It was far from impossible, that the 
mutineers might have been induced to seize their persons, as 
hostages for their own security, as well as with a hope of extort 
ing concessions. Had such an event taken place, the whole 
country would have exclaimed, Why did not Congress withdraw 
from a place where they found they could not be assured of sup 
port; where the government was so feeble, or the citizens so 
indisposed, as to suffer three or four hundred mutinous soldiers 
to violate, with impunity, the authority of the United States, 
and of their own State ? 

When they resolved to depart, on the want of adequate ex 
ertions, they had reason to doubt their being made, from the dis 
inclination shown by the Council to call out the militia in the 
first instance : and when they did actually depart, they were in 
formed by the Council, that the efforts of the citizens were not 
to be looked for, even from a repetition of the outrage which 
had already happened ; and it was to be doubted what measure 
of outrage would produce them. They had also convincing proof, 
that the mutiny was more serious than it had even at first ap 
peared, by the participation of some of the officers. 

To throw the blame of harshness and precipitancy upon Con 
gress, it is said, that their dignity was only accidentally and unde- 
signedly offended. Much stress has been laid upon the message, 
from the soldiery being directed to the Council, and not to them. 
All this, however, is very immaterial to the real merits of the 
question. Whatever might have been the first intention of the 
mutineers in this particular act, whether it proceeded from arti 
fice or confusion of ideas, the indignity to Congress was the same. 
They knew that Congress customarily held their deliberations at 
the State House : and if it even be admitted, that they knew 
Saturday to be a day of usual recess, which, perhaps, is not alto 
gether probable : when they came to the place they saw, and 
knew, Congress to be assembled there. They did not desist in 
consequence of this ; but proceeded to station their guards, and 
execute their purposes. Members of Congress went out to them ; 
remonstrated with them ; represented the danger of their pro- 


ceedings to themselves, and desired them to withdraw : but they 
persisted till they obtained what they supposed a part of their 
object. A majority of the same persons had, some days before, 
sent a message, almost equally exceptionable, to Congress ; and 
at the time they scarcely spoke of any other body than Congress ; 
who, indeed, may naturally be supposed to have been the main 
object of their resentments : for Congress, having always appear 
ed to the soldiery, to be the body who contracted with them, and 
who had broken faith with them, it is not to be supposed they 
were capable of investigating the remote causes of the failures, 
so as to transfer the odium from Congress to the State. 

But the substantial thing to be considered in this question, is 
the violation of public authority. It cannot be disputed, that 
the mutiny of troops is a violation of that authority to which 
they owe obedience. This was, in the present case, aggravated 
to a high degree of atrociousness, by the gross insult to the gov 
ernment of Pennsylvania, in the face of Congress, and in defi 
ance of their displeasure. It was further aggravated by contin 
uing in that condition for a series of time. 

The reasons have been assigned, that made it incumbent upon 
Congress to interpose ; and when they called upon the State of 
Pennsylvania, not only to vindicate its own rights, but to sup 
port their authority, the declining a compliance was a breach of 
the Confederation, and of the duty which the State of Penn 
sylvania owed to the United States. The best apology for the 
government of Pennsylvania, in this case, is, that they could not 
command the services of their citizens. But so improper a dis 
position in the citizens, if admitted, must operate as an additional 
justification to Congress, in their removal. 

The subsequent events, justly appreciated, illustrate the pro 
priety of their conduct. The mutineers did not make voluntary 
submissions in consequence of negotiation, persuasion, or convic 
tion. They did not submit till after Congress had left the city, 
publishing their intentions of coercion ; till after there had been 
an actual call upon the militia ; till their leaders and instigators, 
alarmed by the approach of force, and the fear of being betrayed 
by the men, fled. They were reduced by coercion, not overcome 
by mildness. 


It appears, too, that while they were professing repentance, 
and a return to their duty, they were tampering with the troops 
at Yorktown and Lancaster, to increase their strength; and 
that two officers, at least, were concerned in the mutiny, who, by 
their letters since, have confessed, that some project of impor 
tance was in contemplation. 

The call for the militia was made the day after it had been 
pronounced ineligible by the Council. There could have been 
little change, in that time, either in the temper or preparations of 
the citizens. The truth is, that the departure of Congress brought 
the matter to a crisis ; and that the Council were compelled, by 
necessity, to do what they ought to have done before, through 

It is to be lamented they did not, by an earlier decision, pre 
vent the necessity of Congress taking a step which may have 
many disagreeable consequences. They then would 

[The residue of the manuscript is not found.] 


PRINCETON, June 29, 1783. 


I am informed, that, among other disagreeable things said 
about the removal of Congress from Philadelphia, it is insinu 
ated, that it was a contrivance of some members, to get them 
out of the State of Pennsylvania, into one of those to which 
they belonged ; and I am told, that this insinuation has been 
pointed at me in particular. 

Though I am persuaded, that all disinterested persons will 
justify Congress in quitting a place where they were told they 
were not to expect support (for the conduct of the Council 
amounted to that), yet, I am unwilling to be held up as having 
had an extraordinary agency in the measure for interested pur 
poses, when the fact is directly the reverse. As you were a 

394 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [>E T . 26. 

witness to my conduct and opinions through the whole of the 
transaction, I am induced to trouble you for your testimony 
upon this occasion. I do not mean to make a public use of it ; 
but, through my friends, to vindicate myself from the imputa 
tions I have mentioned. 

I will therefore request your answers to the following ques 
tions : 

Did that part of the resolutions, which related to the removal 
of Congress, originate with me, or not ? 

Did I, as a member of the committee, appear to press the 
departure ; or did I not rather manifest a strong disposition to 
postpone that event as long as possible, even against the general 
current of opinion ? 

I wish you to be as particular and full in your answer as 
your memory will permit. I think you will recollect, that my idea 
was clearly this : That the mutiny ought not to be terminated 
by negotiation ; that Congress were justifiable in leaving a place 
where they did not receive the support which they had a right 
to expect ; but, as their removal was a measure of a critical and 
delicate nature; might have an ill appearance in Europe; and 
might, from events, be susceptible of an unfavorable interpre 
tation in this country ; it was prudent to delay it till its necessity 
became apparent: not only till it was manifest there would be 
no change in the spirit which seemed to actuate the Council ; 
but till it was evident, complete submission was not to be ex 
pected from the troops ; that, to give full time for this, it would 
be proper to delay the departure of Congress till the latest period 
which would be compatible with the idea of meeting at Trenton 
or Princeton on Thursday perhaps even till Thursday morning. 
I am, Sir, your most obedient servant, 


To James Madison, Junior, Esq. 



PHILADELPHIA, July 6, 1783. 


On my arrival in this city I am more convinced than I was 
of the necessity of giving a just state of facts to the public. The 
current runs strongly against Congress, and in a great measure 
for want of information. When facts are explained they make 
an impression, and incline to conclusions more favorable to us. 

I have no copy of the Keports in my possession, which puts 
it out of my power to publish them. Will you procure and 
send me one without loss of time ? Without appearing, I intend 
to give them to the public with some additional exp]anations. 
This done with moderation will no doubt have a good effect. 

The prevailing idea is, that the actors in the removal of Con 
gress were influenced by the desire of getting them oilt of the 
city, and the generality of the remainder by timidity some say 
passion. Few give a more favorable interpretation. 

I will thank you in your letter to me to answer the follow 
ing question : 

What appeared to be my ideas and disposition respecting the 
removal of Congress ? Did I appear to wish to hasten it, or did 
I not rather show a strong disposition to procrastinate it ? 

I will be obliged to you in answering this question to do it 
fully. I do not intend to make any public use of it, but through 
my friends to vindicate myself from the insinuation I have men 
tioned, and in that to confute the supposition that the motive 
assigned did actuate the members on whom it fell to be more 
particularly active. 





PHILADELPHIA, July 22, 1783. 

I wrote you, my beloved Eliza, by the last post, which I 
hope will not meet with the fate that many others of my letters 
must have met with. I count upon setting out to see you in 
four days ; but I have been so frequently disappointed by un 
foreseen events, that I shall not be without apprehensions of 
being detained, till I have begun my journey. The members of 
Congress are very pressing with me not to go away at this time, 
as the House is thin, and as the definitive treaty is momently 

Tell your father that Mr. Eivington, in a letter to the South 
Carolina delegates, has given information, coming to him from 
Admiral Arbuthnot, that the Mercury frigate is arrived at New- 
York with the definitive treaty, and that the city was to be 
evacuated yesterday, by the treaty. 

I am strongly urged to stay a few days for the ratification of 
the treaty ; at all events, however, I will not be long absent. 

I give you joy of the happy conclusion of this important 
work in which your country has been engaged. Now, in a very 
short time, I hope we shall be happily settled in New- York. 

My love to your father. Kiss my boy a thousand times. 



PRINCETON, July 27, 1783. 


A few days since I was honored with your Excellency's 
letter of the ; and was glad to find your ideas on the subject 
corresponded with mine. 

As I shall, in a day or two, take leave of Congress, I think 
it my duty to give my opinion to the Legislature, on a matter of 


importance to the State, which has been long depending, and is 
still without a prospect of termination in the train in which it 
has been placed: I mean the affair of the Grants. It is hazard 
ous to pass a positive judgment on what will happen in a body 
so mutable as that of Congress ; but from all I have seen, I hav& 
come to a settled opinion, that no determination will be taken 
and executed by them in any other manner, than in that pre 
scribed by the Confederation. There is always such a diversity 
of views and interests ; so many compromises to be made be 
tween different States ; that, in a question of this nature, the 
embarrassments of which have been increased by the steps that 
have preceded, and in which the passions of the opposite sides 
have taken a warm part, decision must be the result of necessity. 
While Congress have a discretion, they will procrastinate : when 
they are bound by the Constitution, they must proceed. 

It is, therefore, my opinion, that it will be advisable for the 
Legislature, when they meet, to review the question ; and either 
to relinquish their pretensions to the country in dispute, or to 
instruct their delegates, if a decision is not had within a limited 
time, to declare the submission to Congress revoked, and to insti 
tute a claim according to the principles of the Confederation. 

It would be out of my province to discuss which side of the 
alternative ought, in policy, to prevail : but I will take the liberty 
to observe, that if the last should be preferred, it would be ex 
pedient to remove every motive of opposition from private 
claims ; not only by confirming, in their full latitude, previous 
to the trial, the possessions of the original settlers, but even the 
grants of the usurped government. It may happen, that it will 
be eventually necessary to employ force ; and, in this case, it 
would be of great importance that neither the inhabitants of the 
Grants, nor powerful individuals in other States, should find 
their private interest in contradiction to that of the State. This 
has already had great influence in counteracting our wishes ; 
would continue to throw impediments in the way of ulterior 
measures ; and might at last kindle a serious flame between the 
States. * 

I communicated to your Excellency, in a former letter, that 


I had declined pressing the application of the Legislature to Con 
gress, respecting the State troops for garrisoning the frontier 
posts, because temporary provision had been made in another 
way, which would save the State the immediate expense ; and 
because there was a prospect of some general provision for the 
defence of the frontiers on a Continental establishment, which 
was to be preferred on every account. A report for this purpose 
is now before Congress ; but the thinness of representation has, 
for some time, retarded, and still retards, its consideration. 

The definitive treaty is not yet arrived ; but from accounts 
which, though not official, appear to deserve credit, it may be 
daily expected. A gentleman, known and confided in, has 
arrived at Philadelphia, who informs, that he saw a letter from 
Dr. Franklin to Mr. Barkeley, telling him that the definitive 
treaties were signed the twenty-seventh of May, between all the 
parties ; that New- York was to be evacuated in six months from 
the ratification of the preliminaries in Europe, which will be the 
twelfth or fifteenth of next month. 

As it is not my intention to return to Congress, I take this 
opportunity to make my respectful acknowledgments to the Legis 
lature, for the honorable mark of their confidence conferred upon 
me, by having chosen me to represent the State in that body. 
I shall be happy if my conduct has been agreeable to them. 
With perfect respect, 

I have the honor to be, 
Your Excellency's 

Most obedient servant, 

To his Excellency General "Washington. 


Aug. 23, 1783. 

I would take this opportunity also of 

calling your attention to concurrent resolutions of the Legisla 
ture, respecting the garrisoning of the Western posts in this 


State, which, by the provisional treaty, are to be evacuated by 
the British. These resolutions were in the tenor of instructions 
to our delegates, and were immediately transmitted to them ; but 
as I have not been favored with any official information of the 
result, I submit it to you whether some report on a subject so 
interesting to the State, may not be necessary for the satisfaction 
of the Legislature. From informal communications made to me 
by the Commander-in-Chief, I have reason to believe, that he 
has directions from Congress for garrisoning those posts with 
continental troops, and that he is making arrangements for that 
purpose. But as you will observe, that as it was the sense of 
the Legislature, that those posts should have been garrisoned by 
the State, an explanation on the subject becomes the more neces 
sary ; and it is now for this reason alone, I would request, that 
you would be pleased to favor me with a particular detail of the 
motives which influenced the determination of Congress on this 
occasion. For it will readily be perceived, that should Con 
gress, at this late day, accede to the propositions made by the 
State, it might be impracticable to carry them into execution, 
especially, as I have not ventured, in the state of uncertainty in 
which I was left, to incur the expense which the necessary pre 
parations for the purpose would have required 





We inclose you an extract of Dispatches from His Excellency 
our Governor, received this day, respecting the instructions of 
the Legislature, at their last session, for the security of the West 
ern posts. 

You will be pleased to observe, that an official Keport, on a 
subject so interesting to the State, is deemed to be necessary ; as 
well as a particular detail of the motives which influenced Con- 


gress against the declared sense of the State ; to give directions 
to the Commander-in-Chief for garrisoning those posts with 
Continental troops. This is a duty to which, not having been 
present at the debates, we find ourselves incompetent. We can 
therefore, only refer His Excellency and the Legislature to you, 
our worthy colleagues, who, being fully possessed of the facts, 
can alone give the necessary official information. 

With sentiments of the most perfect esteem and regard, 
We have the honor to be, 

Your most obedient servants, 
The Honorable 

Cols. William Floyd and 
Alexander Hamilton. 


PASSY, Sept. 28, 1783. 


You was always of the number of those I esteemed, and your 
correspondence would both be interesting and agreeable. I 
had heard of your marriage, and it gave me pleasure, as well 
because it added to your happiness, as because it tended to fix 
your residence in a State of which I long wished you to be and 
remain a citizen. 

The character and talents of delegates to Congress daily be 
come more and more important, and I regret your declining that 
appointment at this interesting period. Kespect, however, is 
due to the considerations which influence you, but as they do 
not oppose your accepting a place in the Legislature, I hope the 
State will still continue to draw advantage from your services ; 
much remains to be done, and laborers do not abound. 

I am happy to hear that terms of peace, and the conduct 


of jour negotiators, give general satisfaction : but there are 
some of our countrymen, it seems, who are not content; and 
that, too, with an article which I thought to be very unex 
ceptionable ; viz., the one ascertaining our boundaries. Per 
haps those gentlemen are latitudinarians. 

The American newspapers, for some months past, contain 
advices which do us harm. Violences and associations against 
the tories, pay an ill compliment to government, and impeach 
our good faith in the opinion of some, and our magnanimity 
in the opinion of many. Our reputation also suffers, from the 
apparent reluctance to taxes, and the ease with which we incur 
debts without providing for their payment. The complaints 
of the army; the jealousies respecting Congress; the circum 
stances which induced their leaving Philadelphia ; and the too 
little appearance of a national spirit pervading, uniting, and 
invigorating the Confederacy, are considered as omens which 
portend the diminution of our respectability, power, and felicity. 
I hope that, as the wheel turns round, other and better indi 
cations will soon appear. I am persuaded that America possesses 
too much wisdom and virtue, to permit her brilliant prospects to 
fade away for want of either. 

The tories are almost as much pitied in these countries as 
they are execrated in ours. An undue degree of severity to 
wards them, would, therefore, be impolitic, as well as unjustifi 
able. They who incline to involve that whole class of men in 
indiscriminate punishment and ruin, certainly carry the matter 
too far. It would be an instance of unnecessary rigor, and un 
manly revenge, without a parallel, except in the annals of reli 
gious rage in times of bigotry and blindness. "What does it 
signify where nine-tenths of these people are buried ? I would 
rather see the sweat of their brows fertilize our fields than those 
of our neighbors. 

Yictory and Peace should, in my opinion, be followed by Cle 
mency, Moderation, and Benevolence : and we should be careful 
not to sully the glory of the Eevolution, by licentiousness and 
cruelty. These are my sentiments : and however unpopular 

VOL. i. 26 


they may be, I have not the least desire to conceal or disguise 

Believe me to be, 

With great regard and esteem, dear Sir, 
Your most obedient humble servant, 

Colonel A. Hamilton. 


ALBANY, September 30, 1783. 


As I flatter myself I may indulge a consciousness that my 
services have been of some value to the public, at least enough to 
merit the small compensation I wish, I will make no apology to 
your Excellency, for conveying, through you, that wish to Con 
gress. You are able to inform them, if they wish information, 
in what degree I may have been useful : and I have entire con 
fidence that you will do me justice. 

In a letter which I wrote to you several months ago, I inti 
mated that it might be in your power to contribute to the estab 
lishment of our Federal Union upon a more solid basis. I have 
never since explained myself. At the time, I was in hopes 
Congress might have been induced to take a decisive ground ; 
to inform their constituents of the imperfections of the present 
system, and of the impossibility of conducting the public affairs, 
with honor to themselves and advantage to the community, with 
powers so disproportioned to their responsibility; and, having 
done this, in a full and forcible manner, to adjourn the moment 
the definitive treaty was ratified. In retiring at the same junc 
ture, I wished you, in a solemn manner, to declare to the people, 
your intended retreat from public concerns ; your opinion of the 
present government, and of the absolute necessity of a change. 

Before I left Congress I despaired of the first ; and your cir 
cular letter to the States had anticipated the last. I trust it will 


not be without effect ; though I am persuaded it would have had 
more, combined with what I .have mentioned. At all events, 
without compliment, sir, it will do you honor with the sensible 
and well meaning ; and, ultimately, it is to be hoped, with the 
people at large, when the present epidemic frenzy has subsided. 
I am, dear Sir, 

With sincere esteem, 

Your obedient servant, 

To His Excellency General Washington. 


ALBANY, September 30, 1783. 


I think I may address the subject of this letter to your Ex 
cellency with more propriety than to any other person, as it is 
purely of a military nature ; as you are best acquainted with my 
services as an officer ; and as you are now engaged in assisting 
to form the arrangements for the future peace establishment. 

Your Excellency knows, that in March, '82, I relinquished 
all claim to any future compensation for my services, either 
during the residue of the war, or after its conclusion simply 
retaining my rank. On this foundation I build a hope, that I 
may be permitted to preserve my rank, on the peace establish 
ment, without emoluments and unattached to any corps as an 
honorary reward for the time I have devoted to the public. As 
I may hereafter travel, I may find it an agreeable circumstance 
to appear in the character I have supported in the Revolution. 

I rest my claim solely on the sacrifice I have made ; because 
I have no reason to believe that my services have appeared of 
any value to Congress ; as they declined giving them any marks 
of their notice, on an occasion which appeared to my friends to 
entitle me to it, as well by the common practice of sovereigns, 

404 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [JErr. 26. 

as by the particular practice of this country in repeated in 

Your Excellency will recollect, that it was my lot at York 
Town to command, as senior officer, a successful attack upon one 
of the enemy's redoubts ; that the officer who acted in a similar 
capacity in another attack, made at the same time by the French 
troops, has been handsomely distinguished, in consequence of it, 
by the government to which he belongs; and that there are 
several examples among us, where Congress have bestowed 
honors upon actions, perhaps not more useful nor, apparently 
more hazardous. 

These observations are inapplicable to the present Congress, 
further than as they may possibly furnish an additional motive 
to a compliance with my wish. 

The only thing I ask of your Excellency, is, that my appli 
cation may come into view in the course of the consultations on 
the peace establishment. 

I have the honor to be, 
With sincere esteem, 
Your Excellency's 

Most obedient servant, 

To His Excellency General Washington. 


ALBANY, October 3, 1783. 


I have lately received from Messrs. Duane and L'Homme- 
dieu, an extract of a letter from your Excellency to the dele 
gates, of the twenty -third of August last, requesting " a partic 
ular detail of the motives which influenced the determination of 
Congress," respecting the application of the Legislature to have 
their State troops released from Continental pay, for the purpose 
of garrisoning the frontier posts. 


In my letters to your Excellency, of the first of June and 
twenty-seventh of July, which were intended to be official, I 
summarily informed you, that Congress had made temporary 
provision for garrisoning the frontier posts, and that a plan was 
under deliberation relative to a peace establishment, which would, 
of course, embrace that object permanently; that such tempo 
rary provision being made at the common expense, and a general 
plan being under consideration for the future, I had declined 
pressing a compliance with the application of the Legislature ; 
conceiving it to be more for the interest of the State, that the 
expense should be jointly borne, than that it should fall exclu 
sively upon itself. 

I did not enter into a more full detail upon the subject, be 
cause the business continued, .to the time I left Congress, in an 
undecided state; and it was impossible to judge what views 
would finally prevail. 

The concurrent resolutions of the two Houses had been 
immediately, on their receipt, referred to a committee appointed 
to report on a peace establishment, who had suspended their 
report on these resolutions, till it should appear, what would be 
the fate of a general plan which had been submitted. 

As to the motives that influenced Congress in making the 
provision they did make, rather than immediately assenting to 
the application of the State ; as far as I was able to collect them, 
they were these : The opinions of many were unsettled as to the 
most eligible mode of providing for the security of the frontiers, 
consistent with the Constitution, as well with respect to the 
general policy of the Union, as to considerations of justice to 
those States whose frontiers were more immediately exposed. 
A considerable part of the House appeared to think, from reasons 
of a very cogent nature, that the well-being of the Union re 
quired a federal provision for the security of the different parts ; 
and that it would be a great hardship to individual States, pecu 
liarly circumstanced, to throw the whole burthen of expense 
upon them, by recurring to separate provisions, in a matter, the 
benefit of which would be immediately shared by their neigh 
bors, and, ultimately, by the Union at large : that, indeed, it was 

406 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [JEn. 26. 

not probable particular States would be either able, or, upon 
experiment, willing, to make competent provision at their sepa 
rate expense; and that the principle might eventually excite 
jealousies between the States unfriendly to the common tran 

I freely confess I was one who held this opinion. 

Questions naturally arose as to the true construction of the 
articles of Confederation upon this head ; questions as delicate 
as interesting, and as difficult of solution. 

On one hand, it was doubted whether Congress were autho 
rized by the Confederation, to proceed upon the idea of a federal 
provision : on the other, it was perceived that such a contrary 
construction would be dangerous to the Union, including, among 
other inconveniences, this consequence : That the United States, 
in Congress, cannot raise a single regiment, nor equip a single 
ship, for the general defence, till after a declaration of war, or 
an actual commencement of hostilities. 

In this dilemma, on an important constitutional question ; 
other urgent matters depending before Congress ; and the ad 
vanced season requiring a determination upon the mode of secur 
ing the western posts in case of a surrender this fall ; all sides 
of the House concurred in making a temporary provision, in the 
manner which has been communicated. 

My apprehension of the views of the Legislature was simply 
this : That, looking forward to a surrender of the posts, and 
conceiving, from some expressions in the articles of Confedera 
tion, that separate provision was to be made for the frontier 
garrisons ; they had thought it expedient to apply the troops 
already on foot to that purpose, and to propose to Congress to 
give their sanction to it. 

Under this apprehension ; reflecting, besides, that those troops 
were engaged only for a short period, upon a very improper 
establishment to continue, on account of the enormous pay to 
the private men ; and that the expense which is now shared by 
all, and which would have fallen solely upon the State, had the 
application been complied with ; would probably be at the rate 
of nearly eighty thousand dollars per annum, a considerable 

-ffiT.26.] CORRESPONDENCE. 407 

sum for the State in its present situation ; I acknowledge to your 
Excellency, that I saw with pleasure, rather than regret, the 
turn which the affair took. I shall be sorry, however, if it has 
contravened the intentions of the Legislature. 

I will take the liberty to add, upon this occasion, that it has 
always appeared to me of great importance, to this State in par 
ticular, as well as to the Union in general, that Federal, rather 
than State, provision should be made for the defence of every 
part of the Confederacy, in peace as well as in war. 

Without entering into arguments of general policy, it will 
be sufficient to observe, that this State is, in all respects critically 

Its relative position, shape, and intersections, viewed on the 
map, strongly speak this language. Strengthen the Confedera 
tion ; give it exclusively the power of the sword : let each State 
have no forces but its militia. 

As a question of mere economy, the following considerations 
deserve great weight. 

The North Eiver facilitates attacks by sea and by land : and, 
besides the frontier forts, all military men are of opinion, that a 
strong post should be maintained at West Point, or some other 
position on the lower part of the river. 

If Canada is well governed, it may become well peopled, 
and by inhabitants attached to its government. The British 
nation, while it preserves the idea of retaining possession of that 
country, may be expected to keep on foot there, a large force. 
The position of that force, either for defence or offence, will 
necessarily be such as will afford a prompt and easy access to us. 

Our precautions for defence, must be proportioned to their 
means of annoying us : and we may hereafter find it indispen 
sable to increase our frontier garrisons. 

The present charge of a competent force in that quarter, 
thrown additionally, into the scale of those contributions which 
we must make to the payment of the public debt, and to other 
objects of general expense, if the Union lasts, would, I fear, en 
large our burthen beyond our ability : that charge, hereafter 
increased, as it may be, would be oppressively felt by the people. 


It includes, not only the expense of paying and subsisting the 
necessary number of troops, but of keeping the fortifications in 
repair ; probably of creating .others ; and of furnishing the re 
quisite supplies of military stores. I say nothing of the Indian 
nations, because, though it will be always prudent to be upon 
our guard against them, yet, I am of opinion we diminish the 
necessity of it by making them our friends : and I take it for 
granted, there cannot be a serious doubt, any where, as to the 
obvious policy of endeavoring to do it. Their friendship, alone, 
can keep our frontiers in peace. It is essential to the improve 
ment of the fur trade ; an object of immense importance to the 
State. The attempt at the total expulsion of so desultory a peo 
ple, is as chimerical as it would be pernicious. War with them 
is as expensive as it is destructive: it has not a single object; 
for, the acquisitions of their lands is not to be wished, till those 
now vacant are settled : and the surest, as well as the most just 
and humane way of removing them, is by extending our settle 
ments to their neighborhood. 

Indeed, it is not impossible they may be already willing to ex 
change their former possessions for others more remote. 

The foregoing considerations would lose all force, if we had 
full security that the rest of the world would make our safety 
and prosperity the first object of their reverence and care : but an 
expectation of this kind would be too much against the ordinary 
course of human affairs ; too visionary to be a rule for national 

It is true, our situation secures us from conquest, if internal 
dissensions do not open the way : but when nations now make 
war upon each other, the object seldom is total conquest. Par 
tial acquisitions ; the jealousy of power ; the rivalship of domin 
ion, or of commerce; sometimes national emulation and anti 
pathy ; are the motives. 

Nothing shelters us from the operation of either of these 
causes. The fisheries ; the fur trade ; the navigation of the 
lakes and of the Mississippi ; the western territory ; the Islands 
of the "West Indies, with reference to traffic ; in short, the pas 
sions of human nature, are abundant sources of contention and 


I will not trespass further on your Excellency's patience. I 
expected, indeed, that my last letter would have finished my 
official communications ; but Messrs. Duane and L'Hommedieu 
having transmitted the extract of yonr letter to Mr. Floyd and 
myself, in order that we might comply with what your Excel 
lency thought would be expected by the Legislature, it became 
my duty to give this explanation. Mr. Floyd having been at 
Congress but a little time after the concurrent resolutions arrived, 
and being now at a great distance from me, occasions a separate 

I have the honor to be, 
With perfect respect, 

Your Excellency's 

Most obedient servant, 


N. B. I did not at the time inclose the resolution, directing 
the General to provide for garrisoning the frontier posts, because 
I understood it would in course be transmitted to you by the 
President, or the Secretary at War. 

A. H. 
To his Excellency Governor Clinton. 


PRINCETON, October 16, 1783. 


Your favor of the sixth of July, by some singular ill luck, 
never found its way to my hands till yesterday evening. 

The only part that now needs attention, is a request that I 
would answer the following question : " What appeared to be 
my ideas and disposition respecting the removal of Congress : 
did I appear to wish to hasten it, or did I not rather show a 
strong disposition to procrastinate it ?" If this request had been 

410 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [M?. 26. 

received at the time it ought, it might have been answered as 
fully as you then wished. Even after the delay which has taken 
place, my recollection enables me, with certainty, to witness, 
that the uniform strain of your sentiments, as they appeared, 
both from particular conversations with myself, and incidental 
ones with others in my presence, was opposed to the removal of 
Congress, except in the last necessity; that when you finally 
yielded to the measure, it appeared to be more in compliance 
with the peremptory expostulations of others than with any dis 
position of your own mind ; and that after the arrival of Con 
gress at Princeton, your conversation showed that you reviewed 
the removal, rather with regret than with pleasure. 

Perhaps this obedience to your wishes may be too late to 
answer the original object of them. But I could not omit such 
an opportunity of testifying the esteem and regard with which I 

Your obedient servant, 

To the Hon. Alexander Hamilton, Esq. 


ROCKY HILL, October 18, 1783. 


I am favored with your two letters of the thirtieth of Sep 

The debate on Indian affairs, which, I believe, is got through, 
and that on the residence of Congress, which is yet in agitation, 
have entirely thrown aside, for some time, the consideration of 
the peace establishment. When it is resumed, I will take care 
that your application comes into view ; and shall be happy if 
any thing in my power may contribute to its success ; being, 
with great truth, 

Dear Sir, 

Your most obedient servant, 

To Colonel Hamilton. 



* ' 

PRINCETON, October 22, 1783. 


The homilies you delivered in Congress are still recollected 
with pleasure. The impressions they made are in favor of your 
integrity ; and no one but believes you a man of honor and re 
publican principles. Were you ten years older and twenty 
thousand pounds richer, there is no doubt but that you might 
obtain the suffrages of Congress for the highest office in their 
gift. You are supposed to possess various knowledge, useful, 
substantial, and ornamental. Your very grave and your cau 
tious, your men who measure others by the standard of their 
own creeping politics, think you sometimes intemperate, but sel 
dom visionary : and that were you to pursue your object with as 
much cold perseverance as you do with ardor and argument, you 
would become irresistible. In a word, if you could submit to 
spend a whole life in dissecting a fly, you would be, in their 
opinion, one of the greatest men in the world. Bold designs ; 
measures calculated for their rapid execution; a wisdom tha 
would convince from its own weight; a project that would sur 
prise the people into greater happiness, without giving them an 
opportunity to view it and reject it ; are not adapted to a coun 
cil composed of discordant elements, or a people who have thir 
teen heads, each of which pay superstitious adorations to inferior 

I have been deterred, from day to day, from sending you the 
extract you desire, by a proclamation on the subject, which I 
expected would have passed. It is still in dubio. I have report 
ed on Fleury's case, on the principle you recommend. I fear his 
half-pay will not be granted. 

Congress, some time ago, determined to fix their Federal town 
on the Delaware, near Trenton. Yesterday they determined to 
erect a second Federal town on the Potomac, near Georgetown ; 
and to reside equal periods (not exceeding one year) at Annapo 
lis and Trenton, till the buildings are complete^. "We adjourn 

412 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [^Ei. 26. 

the twelfth of next month, to meet at Annapolis the twenty- 

Adieu, my dear friend ; and in the days of your happiness 
drop a line to yours. 


P. S. Our exemplification of the Treaty has passed, and will 
be transmitted to the State officially. 

J. McH. 
To the Hon. Alexander Hamilton, Esq. 


ROCKY HILL, November 6, 1783. 


The inclosed is a letter which I had written, and was about 
to dispatch at the date of it ; but, upon second thoughts, deter 
mined to postpone it, and try, if, from the importance of the 
matter, I could not bring forward the peace establishment pre 

I have tried in vain. Congress, after resolving, on the 

of last month, to adjourn upon the twelfth of this, did, equally 
unexpectedly and surprisingly to me, finish their session at this 
place the day before yesterday ; without bringing the peace estab 
lishment, or any of the many other pressing matters, to a decision. 

Finding this was likely to be the case, I showed your letter 
to some of your particular friends ; and consulted with them on 
the propriety of making known your wishes with my testimo 
nial of your services to Congress ; but they advised me to de 
cline it, under a full persuasion that no discrimination would, or 
indeed, could, be made at this late hour, as every other officer, 
from the highest to the lowest grades (not in actual command), 
were retiring without the retention of rank ; and that the re 
mainder, upon a peace establishment (if a Continental one should 
ever take place), would come in upon the new system, under 


fresh, appointments ; so that unless you wished to come into actual 
command again (which none supposed), they saw no way by 
which you could preserve your rank. 

I have the pleasure to inclose you a brevet, giving you the 
rank of full Colonel. 

I am, dear Sir, 

Your most obedient servant, 

To Colonel Hamilton. 


NEW- YORK, December 8, 1783. 


Being concerned as counsel for a number of persons who have 
been, since the annunciation of the provisional treaty, indicted 
under the confiscation laws of this State, for the part they are 
supposed to have taken in the late war, we are induced, at the 
desire of our clients, and in their behalf, to apply to Congress, 
through your Excellency, for an exemplification of the definitive 
treaty. We take it for granted, that ere this it will have been 

direction of the United States. 

We have found a great strictness in the Courts in this State. It 
will, we apprehend, be necessary to be able to produce an exem 
plification of the treaty under the seal of the United States. In 
a matter so interesting to a great number of individuals, for it 
does not belong to us to urge considerations of national honor, 
we hope we shall be excused when we observe, that there appears 
to be no probability that the legislature of this State will inter 
pose its authority to put a stop to prosecutions, till the definitive 
treaty is announced in form. In the mean time, a period is 
limited for the appearance of the indicted persons to plead to 
their indictments, and if they neglect to appear, judgment by de 
fault will be entered against them. It is therefore of great con 
sequence to them, that we should have in our possession, as 

414 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [Mi. 27. 

speedily as possible, an authentic document of the treaty, and of 
its ratification by Congress ; and we, on this account, pray an 
exemplification of both. 

We persuade ourselves that the justice and liberality of Con 
gress will induce a ready compliance with our prayer, which will 
conduce to the security of a great number of individuals who 
derive their hopes of safety from the national faith. 

We have the honor to be with perfect respect, 
Your Excellency's 

Most obedient and humble servants, 

His Excellency 

The President of Congress. 


NEW-YORK, March 10, 1784. 


In my last to you I informed you that a project for a 
land bank had been set on foot by Mr. Sayre, as the ostensible 
parent ; but that I had reason to suspect the Chancellor was the 
true father. The fact has turned out as I supposed, and the 
Chancellor, with a number of others, have since petitioned the 
Legislature for an exclusive charter for the proposed bank. I 
thought it necessary, not only with a view to your project, but 
for the sake of the commercial interests of the State, to start an 
opposition to this scheme; and took occasion to point out its 
absurdity and inconvenience to some of the most intelligent 
merchants, who presently saw the matter in a proper light, and 
began to take measures to defeat the plan. 

The Chancellor had taken so much pains with the country 
members, that they all began to be persuaded that the land bank 
was the true Philosopher's stone that was to turn all their rocks 
and trees into gold ; and there was great reason to apprehend a 


majority of the Legislature would have adopted his views. It 
became necessary to convince the projectors themselves of the 
impracticability of their. scheme ; and to counteract the impres 
sions they had made by a direct application to the Legislature. 
Some of the merchants, to effect these purposes, set on foot a 
subscription for a money bank, and called upon me to subscribe. 
I was a little embarrassed how to act, but upon the whole I con 
cluded it best to fall in with them, and endeavor to induce them 
to put the business upon such a footing as might enable you, 
with advantage, to combine your interests with theirs ; for since 
the thing had been taken up upon the broad footing of the 
whole body of the merchants, it appeared to me that it never 
would be your interest to pursue a distinct project in opposition 
to theirs ; but that you would prefer, so far as you might choose 
to employ money in this way, to become purchasers in the 
general bank. The object, on this supposition, was to have the 
bank founded on such principles as would give you a proper 
weight in the direction. Unluckily, for this purpose, I entered 
rather late into the measure : proposals had been agreed upon, 
in which, among other things, it was settled that no stockholder, 
to whatever amount, should have more than seven votes, which 
was the number to which a holder of ten shares was to be enti 
tled. At an after meeting of some of the most influential char 
acters, I engaged them so far to depart from this ground, as to 
allow a vote for every five shares above ten. 

The stockholders have since thought proper to appoint me 
one of the directors. I shall hold it till Wadsworth and you 
come out, and, if you choose to become parties to this bank, I 
shall make a vacancy for one of you. I inclose you the consti 
tution, and the names of the President, Directors, and Cashier. 

An application for a charter has been made to the Legisla 
ture, with a petition against granting an exclusive one to the 
land bank. The measures which have been taken appear to 
have had their effect upon the minds of the partisans of the 
land bank. 

The affairs of the bank in Pennsylvania appear to be in 
some confusion. They have stopped discounts ; but I have no 

416 HAMILTON'S WORKS. |>ET. 27. 

apprehension that there is any thing more in the matter than 
temporary embarrassment from having a little overshot their 
mark in their issues of paper, and from ihe opposition which the 
attempt to establish a new bank had produced. 

Yours affectionately, 

J. B. Church, Esq. 


NEW-YORK, March 21, 1784. 


Permit me to introduce to your acquaintance and attention 
Mr. Seton, Cashier of the Bank of New- York. He is just 
setting out for Philadelphia to procure materials and informa 
tion in the forms of business. I recommend him to you, be 
cause I am persuaded you will with pleasure facilitate his object. 
Personally, I dare say you will be pleased with him. 

He will tell you of our embarrassments and prospects. I 
hope an incorporation of the two banks, which is evidently the 
interest of both, has put an end to differences in Philadelphia. 
Here a wild and impracticable scheme of a land bank stands in 
our way; the projectors of it persevering in spite of the experi 
ence they have, that all the mercantile and moneyed influence is 

against it. 



PHILADELPHIA, 27 March, 1784. 


You will observe by my letter of this day to our President, 
that I have been requested to postpone my visit to the bank 
until they shall be well informed that the Bank of New-York 
has, or actually will, obtain a charter. Although I am confident 
this is only an ostensible reason for not wishing to see me at the 


bank, it will be highly necessary I should be regularly Informed 
of what is doing in this respect, that I may be able to speak 
fully and with firmness to the subject; therefore, exclusive of 
any letter the director may write to me, I trust you will commu 
nicate to me whatever may appear to you essential for me to 

The fact is (and which cannot be communicated to the many, 
and therefore not mentioned in my official letter), their motive 
for not wishing to see me at the bank just now, arises from their 
being at present in very great confusion the opposition of the 
new bank began it, and being pressed so hard by this opposition, 
they were obliged to lay themselves so open, that it evidently 
appeared, if carried further, it would strike too fatal a blow. 
Therefore, for the safety of the community at large, it became 
absolutely necessary to drop the idea of a new bank, and to join 
hand in hand to relieve the old bank from the shock it had re 
ceived. Gold and silver had been extracted in such amounts 
that discounting was stopped, and for this fortnight past not any 
business has been done at the bank in this way. The distress it 
has occasioned to those dependent on circulation and engaged in 
large speculations, is severe ; and, as if their cup of misery must 
overflow, by the last arrival from Europe, intelligence is received 
that no less a sum than 60,000 sterling of Mr. Morris's bills, 
drawn for the Dutch loan, are under protest. It is well known 
that the bank, by some means or other, must provide for this 
sum. The child must not desert its parent in distress, and, such 
is their connection, that whatever is fatal to the one must be so 
to the other. However, the man who has more than once, by 
his consummate abilities, saved the American Empire from ruin, 
will no doubt be found equal to overcome these temporary in 
conveniences, and to restore universal confidence and good order. 
I trust you will be guarded in your conversation with others on 
this subject, lest it might recoil on me, and not only place me 
in a disagreeable situation, but defeat the purposes of my coming 
here. I have had several interviews with our friend Gov. 
Morris ; he is for making the bank of New- York a branch of 

VOL. I. 27 


the bank of North. America, but we differ widely in our ideas of 
the benefit that would result from such a connection. 

If it will not be intruding too much upon your time and 
goodness, may I request that you will now and then inform me 
what is doing by our Legislature, and permit me to assure you, 
that it will ever give me singular pleasure to have it in my 
power to evince the respect and esteem with which 
I am, dear Sir, 

Your ob't and very humble serv't, 

Alexander Hamilton, Esq. 


NEW- YORK, April 4, 1784. 

Pardon me, my dear sir, for not sooner having obeyed your 
orders with respect to the inclosed. I part with it reluctantly ; 
for wit is so rare an article, that when we get so much of it in 
so small a compass, we cannot easily consent to be dispossessed 
of it. I am very happy to hear of the union of your two Banks ; 
for you will believe me when I tell you, that, on more deliberate 
consideration, I was led to view the competition in a different 
light from that in which it at first struck me. I had no doubt 
that it was against the interests of the proprietors; but, on a 
superficial view, I perceived benefits to the community, which, 
on a more close inspection, I found were not real. 

You will call our proceedings here strange doings. If some 
folks were paid to counteract the prosperity of the State, they 
could not take more effectual measures than they do. But it is 
in vain to attempt to kick against the pricks. 

Discrimination bills ; partial taxes ; schemes to engross pub 
lic property in the hands of those who have present power ; to 
banish the real wealth of the State, and to substitute paper 

jE T . 27.] CORRESPONDENCE. 419 

bubbles ; are the only dishes that suit the public palate at this 

Permit me to ask your opinion on a point of importance to 
the New- York Bank the best mode of receiving and paying 
out gold. I am aware of the evils of that which has been prac 
tised upon in Philadelphia weighing in quantities ; but I cannot 
satisfy myself about a substitute, unless there could be a coinage. 
Favor me with your sentiments on this subject as soon as 
you can. 

Believe me, with equal warmth and sincerity, 


To Gouverneur Morris, Esq. 


NEW-YORK, June 14, 1784. 


Colonel Clarkeson, who will have the honor of delivering 
you this, being already known to you, I give him this letter more 
for the sake of renewing to you the assurances of my attachment 
and esteem, than from a supposition that he will stand in need 
of any new title to your attention. I will therefore only say of 
him, that his excellent qualities cannot be known without inter 
esting those to whom they are known, and that from a personal 
and warm regard for him, I should be happy, if any thing I 
could say, could be an additional motive for your countenance 
and civilities to him. 

I speak of him in the light of a friend. As the messenger of 
Science, he cannot fail to acquire the patronage of one of her 
favorite ministers. He combines with the views of private satis 
faction, which a voyage to Europe cannot but afford, an under 
taking for the benefit of a Seminary of learning, lately instituted 
in this State. 


Learning is the common concern of mankind ; and why may 
not poor republicans, who can do little more than wish her well, 
send abroad to solicit the favor of her patrons and friends ? Her 
ambassador will tell you his errand. I leave it to your mistress 
to command and to the trustees of the institution to ask your 
interest in promoting his mission. 

Permit me only to add, that if there is any thing in this 
country by which I can contribute to your satisfaction, nothing 
will make me happier at all times, than that your commands 
may enable me to give you proofs of the respectful and affection 
ate attachment with which 

I have the honor to be, 

Monsieur Le Chevalier, 

Your most ob't and humble serv't, 

A. H. 
Le Chevalier De Chastellux. 


PHILADELPHIA, June 30, 1784. 


This is rather a late period to acknowledge yours of the 
seventh of April. I have lived in the constant intention to 
answer it, and I now execute my purpose. But why not sooner ? 
" Procrastination is the thief of time," says Dr. Young. I meant 
to have written fully on the subject of the gold. But I waited 
some informations from Annapolis on the probability of a Mint. 
I afterwards intended a long letter upon a subject I mentioned 
to Mr. Seton, namely, a coalition between your Bank and the 
National Bank. I do not find either party inclined to it. And 
yet both would be the better for it. You, I believe, will soon 
be out of blast unless it should take place. I could say a great 
deal on this subject, but it would be very useless. When you 
find your cash diminish very fast, remind Seton of my predic- 


tions, and let Mm tell you what they were. If the Legislature 
should attempt to force paper money down your throats, it would 
be a good thing to be somewhat independent of them. But I 
must check myself, or I shall go too far into a business which 
would plague us both to no purpose. It shall be left, therefore, 
until we meet. 

Yery affectionately yours, 

Gouv. MOKKIS. 
Alexander Hamilton, Esq. 


ALBANY, Oct. 8, 1784. 


* * ***** 

Several delays have retarded the opening of the Treaty ; and 
when I was upon the ground, it has been found that my influ 
ence with the Indians, both friendly and hostile tribes, was much 
greater than the Commissioners, and even myself, had conceived ; 
so that I was requested, even by every one of the tribes there, 
to speak to those nations. There were some, more or less, from 
each tribe. I stayed as long as the Commissioners thought I 
could do them some good ; and that has rather cramped my pri 
vate plans of visits. 

Now, my dear friend, I am going to Hartford, Boston, New 
port ; from thence, by water, to Virginia, in order to save time ; 
and about the twentieth of next month I hope to be again with 
you in New-York : but before that time will write you from 

Adieu, my dear Hamilton. 

Most affectionately I am yours, 


P. S. I am told Mr. Jay is not determined upon accepting. 
I much wish he may consent to it ; the more so, as his probable 
successor does not hit my fancy. Indeed, I very much wish 
Mr. Jay may accept the office. 
To Colonel Hamilton. 

422 HAMILTON'S WORKS. ^T. 27. 


BOSTON, Oct. 22, 1784. 


Every step I move, there comes upon me a happy necessity 
to change my plans. The reception I met with in Boston no 
words can describe ; at least it is impossible to express what I 
have felt. Gratitude as well as propriety conspired with all 
other inducements to keep me here some time longer. Ehode 
Island and New Hampshire I must visit, and intend embarking 
by the first or second day of next month for Virginia, in the 
Nymph frigate, which has been sent on my account. In less 
than four weeks' time from this day, I hope to be with Congress ; 
and when my business there is concluded, will come to New- 
York, where I hope we will spend some days together. My stay 
in your city has been too short, far inadequate to the feelings of 
my gratitude, and to the marks of goodness bestowed upon 
me ; but this time I will be some days longer with my New- 
York friends. 

Upon reflecting on my situation, my circumstances, my love 
for America, and yet the motives that might render it improper 
for her to employ me in a public capacity, I have confined 
myself to a plan which, at the same time that it gratifies my 
attachment and serves the United States, cannot have any 
shadow of inconvenience. After having told me they know 
my zeal, I wish Congress to add, they want me to continue 
those friendly, and, I might say, patriotic exertions ; that in 
consequence of it, their ministers at home, and their ministers 
abroad, will have a standing order to look to me as one whose 
information and exertions will ever be employed to the service 
of the United States ; and when they think it is wanted, to 
communicate with me upon the affairs of America ; that Con 
gress will, whenever I think it proper, be glad of my corres 

Upon that general scale, every minister may conceal from me 
what he pleases, may write to me only when he pleases ; and 


should he ever think mj assistance is wanting, he has a title to 
ask, I have one to give it ; and my connection with America is 
for ever kept, without giving jealousy, upon such a footing as 
will remain at the disposition of each public servant of Congress. 

It seems to me, my dear friend, this idea already met with 
your approbation. In case it does, do promote it with your 
delegates and others. If it does not, write it to me by the bearer 
whom I send by land to apologize to the General for my delays. 

Our friend Knox has been most affectionate and kind to me. 

Yours for ever, 


P. S. I have written to Wadsworth, and spoken to Bosto- 
nians respecting the Baron's affairs. I will do the same in 
Virginia, Maryland, and elsewhere. 

To Alexander Hamilton, Esq. 


PARIS, April 13, 1785. 


Although I have just now written to McHenry, requesting 
him to impart my Gazette to you, a very barren one indeed, I 
feel within myself a want to tell you, I love you tenderly. Your 
brother Church has sailed for America, since which I had a letter 
from his lady, who is in very good health. By an old letter from 
our friend Greene, I have been delighted to find he consents to 
send his son to be educated with mine ; the idea makes me very 
happy. I wish, dear Hamilton, you would honor me with the 
same mark of your friendship and confidence. As there is no 
fear of a war, I intend visiting the Prussian and Austrian troops. 
In one of your New- York Gazettes, I find an association against 
the slavery of negroes, which seems to me worded in such a 
way as to give no offence to the moderate men in the southern 


States. As I ever have been partial to my brethren of that 
color, I wish, if you are one in the society, you would move, in 
your own name, for my being admitted on the list. My best re 
spects wait on Mrs. Hamilton. Adieu. 

Your affectionate friend, 





At the instance of Mr. Hartley, in behalf of his friend, Mr. 
Francis Upton, I advised Mr. Upton to apply to some counsellor 
in New- York, and particularly to Mr. Hamilton, whose reputa 
tion was known to me, although, his person was not. 

Mr. Hartley now requests for Mr. Upton a letter of introduc 
tion. As a total stranger, but by character, it would be very 
difficult to find a pretence to excuse the liberty I take in present 
ing Mr. Upton to you, and recommending his case to your atten 
tion. But, as we say at the bar, where I wish I was, v aleat quan 
tum vakre potest. With much esteem, 

I have the honor to be, Sir, 

Your most obedient and most humble servant, 

Mr. Hamilton. 


November, 8, 1785. 


The message which you sent me yesterday, and your letter 
to-day, were conceived in terms to which I am little accustomed. 
"Were I to consult my feelings only upon the occasion, I should 
return an answer very different from that which I have, in jus- 


tice to my own conduct, resolved upon. But in whatever light 
we are to view each other hereafter, and however harsh and in 
delicate I may think the method you have taken to obtain an 
explanation to be, I shall, for my own part, leave no room to sup 
pose that I intentionally gave you any cause to complain. I 
shall, therefore, explicitly declare, that whatever inattention may 
have appeared towards you, was solely owing to the continual 
hurry in which my engagements, for a long time past, have kept 
me ; and that, so far from its having been occasioned by any de 
signed neglect, it was what, under the circumstances, might have 
happened to my best friend. Indeed, much of what you men 
tion to have been done by you, I am a stranger to. The frequent 
callings, by yourself and by your servant, did not, that I recol 
lect, come to my knowledge. It is possible some of them might 
have been mentioned to me, and, in the hurry of my mind, for 
gotten. Once, I remember, I saw your servant just as I was 
going out on some urgent business. I sent a verbal message, 
promising that I would see you ; which I intended to do, as soon 
as I had made up my resolution on the business of the interview. 
When I received your note I was about sending you an answer 
in writing ; but, upon inquiring for your servant, and finding 
him gone, I omitted it, with an intention to see you personally. 

You say it is near six months since you first applied to me on 
the business in question. A great part of the time I gave you 
all the answer I could give you ; to wit, that I had written to Mr. 
Macaulay, and only waited his answer. About two months since, 
I received it. I have been the greater part of the time out of 
town on indispensable business. In the intervals I have been oc 
cupied about objects of immediate and absolute necessity, which 
could not have been delayed without letting my business run 
into utter confusion. Mr. Macaulay's concerns have been hang 
ing upon my spirits. I have been promising myself, from day 
to day, to bring them to a conclusion; but more pressing objects 
have unavoidably postponed it. I thought the delay required 
some apology to Mr. Macaulay, but I never dreamt of having 
given occasion of offence to you. 

I will not, however, deny, upon a review of what has passed? 


that there have been, through hurry and inadvertency on my part, 
appearances of neglect towards you ; but between gentlemen and 
men of business, unfavorable conclusions ought not to be drawn 
before explanations are asked. Allowances ought to be made 
for the situations of parties ; and the omissions of men, deeply 
involved in business, ought rather to be ascribed to that cause 
than to ill intentions. 

Had you, in the first instance, expressed to me (in such a man 
ner as respect for yourself and delicacy to me dictated) your sense 
of these appearances, I should have taken pains to satisfy you 
that nothing improper towards you was intended by me. But to 
make one of my clerks the instrument of communication, and 
the bearer to me of a harsh accusation, was ill-judged and ungen- 
teel. To take it for granted that you had received an injury 
from me, without first giving me an opportunity of an explanation, 
and to couch your sense of it in terms so offensive as some of 
those used in your letter, is an additional instance of precipita 
tion and rudeness. 

Inadvertencies susceptible of misapprehension, I may commit; 
but I am incapable of intending to wound or injure any man 
who has given me no cause for it ; and I am incapable of doing 
any thing, sir, of which I need be ashamed. The intimation, on 
your part, is unmerited and unwarrantable. After thus having 
explained my own conduct to you, and given you my ideas of 
yours, it will depend on yourself how far I shall be indifferent, 
or not, to your future sentiments of my character. I shall only 
add, that to-morrow you shall receive from me my determination 
on the matter of business between us. 

I am, with due consideration, Sir, 

Your most obedient servant, 


To John Wilkes, Esq. 



November 9, 1785. 

The moment I received yours, I perceived the precipitancy of 
my own conduct, and was very sorry I had so far mistaken both 
our characters to act in the manner I have done. I flatter my 
self, that the same candor which has dictated yours, will be ex 
erted towards mine, and that you will only view it as the act of 
a man who conceived himself injured. As you have never ex 
perienced the cruel reverses of fortune, you can scarcely judge 
how the least insinuations to their prejudice will affect those per 
sons who have ; or how much more suspicious they are of the 
behavior of mankind towards them. 

The morning I left the message for you, I had been called 
upon by one of the creditors of Mr. Heart, who thought it very 
strange no dividend was made ; and he insinuated, some party 
must be interested in the delay. It is the first money transac 
tion I have engaged in since my release. I felt the insinuation 
as alluding to me, and with a force, which, perhaps, I should not. 
However, that moment I went to your office. 

The next morning, when I saw your note to Mr. Atkinson, 
and found myself totally set aside in a business where I had, 
most undoubtedly, been originally neglected, I felt myself very 
much agitated ; and in that frame of mind I wrote my last to 

So much I thought it necessary to add in explanation. 

I am convinced, now, I have been too hasty ; and I am sorry 
for it. It will put me on my guard in future, and I make no 
doubt prove beneficial to me, provided it has not been the means 
of hurting me in your estimation, which I am now more de 
sirous than ever of obtaining. 

I am, Sir, with respect, 

Your much obliged, 

And most obedient servant, 


To Colonel Hamilton. 

428 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [Mr. 28. 


November 23, 1785. 


Major Fairly is just setting out on a visit to you, I believe 
on some business relating to the Cincinnati. The society of this 
State met some short time since, and took into consideration the 
proposed alterations in the original frame of the Institution: 
some were strenuous for adhering to the old Constitution, a few 
for adopting the new, and many for a middle line. This dis 
agreement of opinion, and the consideration that the different 
State societies pursuing different courses some adopting the 
alterations entire; others rejecting them in the same way; others 
adopting in part and rejecting in part might beget confusion 
and defeat good purposes, induced a proposal, which was unani 
mously agreed to, that a committee should be appointed to pre 
pare and lay before the society, a circular letter, expressive of 
the sense of the society on the different alterations proposed, and 
recommending the giving powers to a general meeting of the 
Cincinnati, to make such alterations as might be thought advis 
able, to obviate objections and promote the interests of the 
society. I believe there will be no difficulty in agreeing to 
change the present mode of continuing the society ; but it 
appears to be the wish of our members, that some other mode 
may be denned and substituted, and that it might not be left to 
the uncertainty of legislative provision. We object, too, to 
putting the funds under legislative direction. Indeed, it appears 
to us, the Legislatures will not, at present, be inclined to give us 
any sanction. 

I am of the committee ; and I cannot but flatter myself, that 
when the object is better digested, and more fully explained, it 
will meet your approbation. 

The poor Baron is still soliciting Congress, and has every 
prospect of indigence before him. He has his imprudences ; 
but, upon the whole, he has rendered valuable services ; and his 


merits and the reputation of the country, alike, demand that he 
should not be left to suffer want. 

If there could be any mode by which your influence could 
be employed in his favor, by writing to your friends in Congress, 
or otherwise, the Baron and his friends would be under great 
obligations to you. 

I have the honor to be, 
With sincere esteem, 

Your ob't and humble serv't, 


To His Excellency General Washington. 


MOUNT VERNON, December 11, 1785. 


I have been favored with your letter of the twenty -third of 
November, by Major Fairly. 

Sincerely do I wish that the several State societies had, or 
would adopt the alterations that were recommended by the 
general meeting, in May, seventeen hundred and eighty-four. 
I then thought, and have had no cause since to change my opin 
ion, that if the society of the Cincinnati mean to live in peace 
with the rest of their fellow-citizens, they must subscribe to the 
alterations which were at that time adopted. 

That the jealousies of, and prejudices against, this society, 
were carried to an unwarrantable length, I will readily grant ; 
and that less than was done, ought to have removed the fears 
which had been imbibed, I am as clear in, as I am that it would 
not have done it. But it is a matter of little moment, whether 
the alarm which seized the public mind was the result of fore 
sight, envy, and jealousy, or a disordered imagination: the effect 
of perseverance would have been the same. Wherein, then, 
would have been found an equivalent for the separation of in- 

430 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [^Ei. 29. 

terests which (from my best information, not from one State 
only, but many) would inevitably have taken place ? 

The fears of the people are not yet removed; they only 
sleep ; and a very little matter will set them afloat again. Had 
it not been for the predicament we stood in with respect to the 
foreign officers and the charitable part of the Institution, I 
should, on that occasion, as far as my voice would have gone, 
have endeavored to convince the narrow-minded part of our 
countrymen, that the amor patrice was much stronger in our 
breasts than theirs, and that our conduct, through the whole of 
the business, was actuated by nobler and more generous senti 
ments than were apprehended, by abolishing the society at once, 
with a declaration of the causes, and the purity of its intention. 
But the latter may be interesting to many, and the former is an 
insuperable bar to such a step. 

I am sincerely concerned to find, by your letter, that the 
Baron is again in straitened circumstances. I am much disin 
clined to ask favors of Congress ; but if I knew what the object 
of his wishes are, I should have much pleasure in rendering him 
any service in my power, with such members of that body as I 
now and then correspond with. I had flattered myself, from 
what was told me some time ago, that Congress had made a final 
settlement with the Baron much to his satisfaction. 
I am, dear Sir, 

Your most obedient humble servant, 


To Alex. Hamilton, Esq. 


April 24, 1786. 


Your letter of the twenty -first was only delivered me this 
morning. The good opinion of liberal men I hold in too high 
estimation not to be flattered by that part of your letter which 


relates to me personally. The other part I have communicated 
to General Schuyler, and he assures me he will see all his friends 
this afternoon upon the subject ; so that I have no doubt, as far 
as his influence extends, it will be employed in favor of the 
success of the bill in the Assembly, as it has already been in the 

In taking this step, however, I would not be understood to 
declare any opinion concerning the principles of the bill, with 
which I am not sufficiently acquainted to form a decided opinion. 
I have merely made your letter the occasion of introducing the 
subject to General Schuyler, whose sentiments are as favorable 
to your wishes as you could desire. 

I make this observation from that spirit of candor which I 
hope will always direct my conduct. I am aware that I have 
been represented as an enemy to the wishes of what you call 
your corps. If by this has been meant that I do not feel as much 
as any man, not immediately interested, for the distresses of 
those merchants who have been in a great measure the victims 
of the Ee volution, the supposition does not do justice either to 
my head or my heart. But if it means that I have always 
viewed the mode of relieving them as a matter of peculiar deli 
cacy and difficulty, it is well founded. 

I should have thought it unnecessary to enter into this ex 
planation, were it not that I am held up as a candidate at the 
ensuing election ; and I would not wish that the step I have 
taken, in respect to your letter, should be considered as imply 
ing more than it does ; for I would never wish to conciliate at 
the expense of candor. On the other hand, I confide in your 
liberality not to infer more than I intend from the explanation I 
have given ; and hope you will believe me to be, with great 
cordiality and esteem, 

Dear Sir, 

Your obedient servant, 


To Mr. Hazard. 


. 30. 


NEW- YORK, Sept. 10, 1786. 


Understanding, on our arrival in this city last Friday evening, 
that you had gone on for the Convention at Annapolis the week 
past, we take the liberty to acquaint you, and beg you to com 
municate to the Convention, if it should be opened before we 
arrive there, that we shall set off from this place to-morrow to 
join them, as Commissioners from the State of Massachusetts, 
which we hope to do in the course of this week. The Commis 
sioners from Philadelphia were to sail from thence for this city, on 
the seventh instant, so that they may be expected soon after us. 
With great respect ; 

Your most obedient humble servants, 
F. T. H. DANA. 
The Gentlemen 

Commissioners for New- York. 


PARIS, April 12, 1787. 


It is an age since I heard from you. Of you I hear by some 
of our friends, and in the newspapers. But although I have a 
right to complain, I want to let you know the proceedings of our 
Assembly, which, as it is unusual in France, may raise your 

Our Constitution is pretty much what it was in England be 
fore it had been fairly written down and minutely preserved ; so 
that we have great claims to freedom, to a National Kepresenta- 


tion, to the denial of taxes, &c., &c. But disposition on one 
hand, and levity on the other have manoeuvred us out of almost 
every privilege. They will still subsist, however, more or less, 
in some provinces, and particularly in those of Bretagne. 

Now that the follies of Courts had obliged Government to 
saddle us with new taxes, and the opposition of our magistrates 
did present itself as an obstacle to the ministers, they have 
thought proper to call an Assembly of Notables, chosen by the 
king, but taken among the first people in each order, and to be 
gin with granting them what is more wished for by the nation, 
an Assembly in each Province. 

The last Assembly of Notables, in 1626, had been obedient 
to the ministers. This one came at a more enlightened period. 
It happened under a minister, who, although he has parts, is not 
equal to some of the members men of fine abilities. We are 
backed by the nation, and although not her representatives, have 
behaved as her interpreters, and we have formed a great majority 
in favor of popular measures. 

The speeches from the throne, those of M. de Calonne, have 
been printed : the last one contains many falsehoods. The first 
measure we took was for the clergy to declare they were ready 
to pay in the same proportion with other people, for the Noblesse 
to make the same declaration, and reject a pecuniary privilege 
that was offered, in lieu of the other that is taken off. 

We have gratefully accepted the provincial elective assem 
blies, but have united on such alterations as will invigorate 
them. M. de Calonne had made a mixture of democracy and 
despotism which did annihilate those checks and gradations that 
are necessary evils, wherever there is a king. But I think the 
provincial assemblies, as they are proposed by us, may lay a 
foundation for a good building. 

Several plans for the removal of internal Custom offices, for 
the free exportation of corn, for the change in the salt tax, for 
the annihilation of some duties, and now for the disposal of 
the king's domanial possessions, have been examined, and un 
derwent several alterations. To some we have only left the 

VOL. I. 28 

434 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [&T. 30. 

titles of the chapters, but changed them, in my opinion, much 
for the better. 

The idea of a general tax in kind, was proposed by the 
government, but we said it was not practicable. As to any new 
imposition, we have answered, it is impossible to form an opinion 
before we know the return of the exports of the two last years, 
and the plans of economy that are intended. We have not, it is 
true, any powers from the nation, but our opinion is asked, and 
in a measure has become necessary, and a majority of us do 
not think their opinion can be given, until those preliminaries 
are fulfilled. 

There is a very interesting contrast between the king's power 
at Versailles, and the opposition of that Assembly which is held 
there, and divided in seven committees of twenty, or twenty-two 
each, presided by a prince of the blood. Hitherto we have not 
voted in a General Assembly, although we had some to hear the 
Minister. But the opinions of the committees only are now 
taken, and in the end each vote will be pronounced in the whole 
house, beginning from the last up to the first in rank. You 
know that we have the Clergy, Magistracy, Noblesse, and Tiers 

At the last meeting we had before the recess of these holi 
days, I had a personal battle of some importance. The king's 
domanial property has been a pretence to lavish money on the 
princes of the blood, favorites, and the powerful people of the 
country. I had the day before moved for an examination of 
those bargains, wherein more than fifty millions have been 
thrown away. The great people being afraid of being found 
out, and particularly M. de Calonne, who is guilty of the 
most indecent depredation, thought they must intimidate me 
and the Bishop of Langres, M. de la Luzerne's brother, who had 
seconded my motion. They, in consequence of it, persuaded 
the king to have us told by his brother, our president, that such 
motions ought to be signed. Upon which, we signed the in 
closed paper ; and the bishop said, that after the rents, he would 
bring in some accounts, signed by him, of the bargain of sine 
cure, made by M. de Calonne. 


The king was very angry with me ; M. de Calonne, who had 
ms confidence, intended signal revenge. I was preparing to sup 
port what I had said, when we suddenly heard that M. de 
Calonne had been dismissed. The keeper of the seal was also 
sent off. I am glad we got rid of M. de Calonne ; and with his 
successor, who, unfortunately, is an old broken man, may im 
prove the opportunity of this Assembly, and let us make useful 

Adieu, my dear Hamilton ; my best respects wait on Mrs. 
Hamilton. Eemember me to Gen. Knox, Wadsworth all our 
friends, and particularly the good doctor. 

Most affectionately yours, 


P. S. Don't tell the French Charge d' Affairs that you have 
this paper from me, except that there is nothing in it, for topics 
have spread every wliere. 


NEW-YORK, July 3, 1787. 


In my passage through the Jerseys, and since my arrival here, 
I have taken particular pains to discover the public sentiment, 
and I am more and more convinced that this is the critical oppor 
tunity for establishing the prosperity of this country on a solid 
foundation. I have conversed with men of information, not only 
of this city, but from different parts of the State ; and they agree 
that there has been an astonishing revolution for the better in the 
minds of the people. 

The prevailing apprehension among thinking men is, that 
the Convention, from the fear of shocking the popular opinion, 
will not go far enough. They seem to be convinced, that a strong, 
well-mounted government will better suit the popular palate, than 
one of a different complexion. Men in office are, indeed, taking 
all possible pains to give an unfavorable impression of the Con- 


vention ; but the current seems to be moving strongly the other 

A plain, but sensible man, in a conversation I had with him 
yesterday, expressed himself nearly in this manner : The 
people begin to be convinced that " their excellent form of gov 
ernment," as they have been used to call it, will not answer their 
purpose, and that they must substitute something not very remote 
from that which they have lately quitted. 

These appearances, though they will not warrant a conclu 
sion that the people are yet ripe for such a plan as I advocate, 
yet serve to prove that there is no reason to despair of their adopt 
ing one equally energetic, if the Convention should think proper 
to propose it. They serve to prove that we ought not to allow 
too much weight to objections drawn from the supposed repug 
nance of the people to an efficient constitution. I confess, I am 
more and more inclined to believe, that former habits of thinking 
are regaining their influence with more rapidity than is generally 

Not having compared ideas with you, sir, I cannot judge how 
far our sentiments agree ; but, as I persuade myself, the genuine 
ness of my representations will receive credit with you. My 
anxiety for the event of the deliberations of the Convention, in 
duces me to make this communication of what appears to be the 
tendency of the public mind. 

I own to you, sir, that I am seriously and deeply distressed 
at the aspect of the counsels which prevailed when I left Phila 
delphia. I fear that we shall let slip the golden opportunity of 
rescuing the American Empire from disunion, anarchy, and mi 

No motley or feeble measure can answer the end, or will 
finally receive the public support. Decision is true wisdom, and 
will be not less reputable to the Convention, than salutary to the 

I shall of necessity remain here ten or twelve days. If I have 
reason to believe that my attendance at Philadelphia will not be 
mere waste of time, I shall, after that period, rejoin the Con 




PHILADELPHIA, 10th July, 1787. 


I thank you for your communication of the 3d. "When I 
refer you to the state of the councils which prevailed at the 
period you left this city, and add that they are now, if possible, 
in a worse train than ever ; you will find but little ground on 
which the hope of a good establishment can be formed. In a 
word, I almost despair of seeing a favorable issue to the pro 
ceedings of the Convention, and do, therefore, repent having any 
agency in the business. 

The men who oppose a strong and energetic government are in 
my opinion narrow-minded politicians, or are under the influence 
of local views. The apprehension expressed by them, that the 
people will not accede to the form proposed, is the ostensible, not 
the real, cause of the opposition ; but admitting that the present 
sentiment is as they prognosticate, the question ought neverthe 
less to be, is it or is it not the best form ? If the former, recom 
mend it, and it will assuredly obtain, maugre opposition. 

I am sorry you went away ; I wish you were back. The 
crisis is equally important and alarming, and no opposition under 
such circumstances should discourage exertions, till the signature 
is fixed. I will not at this time trouble you with more than my 
best wishes and sincere regards. 

I am, dear Sir, 

Your obedient servant, 


Alexander Hamilton, Esq. 


NEW- YORK, , 1787. 


Agreeably to what passed between us, I have had an inter 
view with Mr. Auldjo, and I flatter myself if there is (as I doubt 
not there will be) as much moderation on the part of Major 

438 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [&T. 30. 

Peirce as there appears to be on that of Mr. Auldjo, that the 
affair between them may yet be amicably terminated. 

But Mr. Auldjo observes, I confess in my opinion with pro 
priety, that he ought to know with some precision the matters 
which have given offence to Major Peirce, before he can enter 
into explanations ; which he declares himself to be very ready 
to do with coolness and candor, the moment he shall be enabled 
to do it by a specification of the subjects of complaint. If a 
personal interview is for any reason disagreeable to Major Peirce, 
I entreat you, my dear sir, to obtain from him, and to communi 
cate to me by letter, the substance of what has occasioned his 
dissatisfaction, with so much particularity only as will put it in 
the power of Mr. Auldjo to give an explicit answer. Major 
Peirce will, I hope, have no scruples about this, for as the door 
of explanation has been opened by Mr. Auldjo, there is no 
punctilio which stands in his way ; and I trust he will feel the 
force of a sentiment which prudence and humanity equally 
dictate, that extremities ought then only to ensue when, after 
a fair experiment, accommodation has been found impracticable. 
An attention to this principle interests the characters of both the 
gentlemen concerned, and with them our own ; and from every 
other consideration, as well as that of personal friendship to the 
parties, I sincerely wish to give it its full operation. I am con 
vinced you are not less anxious to effect this than myself, and I 
trust our joint endeavors will not prove unsuccessful. 
I remain with sincere regard, 

Dear Sir, your obedient servant, 


I cannot, however, conclude without making one remark. 
Though Mr. Auldjo has expressed and still entertains a desire of 
explanation, it would ill become him to solicit it. Whatever, 
therefore, in my expressions may seem to urge such an expla 
nation with the earnestness of entreaty, must be ascribed to my 
own feelings, and to that inclination which every man of sensi 
bility must feel, not to see extremities take place if it be in his 


power to prevent them, or until they become an absolutely 
necessary sacrifice to public opinion. 

I remain with sincere regard, 

Dear Sir, your obedient servant, 



NEW-YORK, July 26, 1787. 


I have delivered the paper you committed to me, as it stood 
altered, to Major Peirce, from whose conduct I am to conclude 
the affair between you is at an end. He informs me that he 
is shortly to set out on a jaunt up the North Kiver. 

As you intimate a wish to have my sentiments in writing on 
the transaction, I shall with pleasure declare that the steps you 
have taken in consequence of Mr. Peirce's challenge have been 
altogether in conformity to my opinion of what would be pru 
dent, proper, and honorable on your part. They seem to have 
satisfied Mr. Peirce's scruples arising from what he apprehended 
in some particulars to have been your conduct to him, and I 
presume we are to hear nothing further of the matter. 
I remain with great esteem, Sir, 

Your obedient and humble servant, 


To Mr. Auldjo. 


NEW-YORK, August 20, 1787. 


Since my arrival here, I have written to my colleagues, in 
forming them if either of them would come down, I would 
accompany him to Philadelphia ; so much for the sake of pro 
priety and public opinion. 



In the mean time, if any material alteration should happen 
to be made in the plan now before the Convention, I will be 
obliged to you for a communication of it. I will also be obliged 
to you to let me know when your conclusion is at hand, for I 
would choose to be present at that time. 


August 20, 1787. 


The inclosed is said to be the copy of a letter circulating in 
your State. The history of its appearance among us is, that it 
was sent by one Whitmore of Stratford, formerly in the Paymas 
ter General's office, to one James Eeynolds of this city. 

I am at a loss clearly to understand its object, and have some 
suspicion, that it has been fabricated to excite jealousy against 
the Convention, with a view to an opposition to their recom 
mendations. At all events, I wish, if possible, to trace its source, 
and send it to you for that purpose. 

Whitmore must of course say where he got it, and by pursu- 
ng the information we may at last come at the author. Let me 
know the political connections of this man, and the complexion 
of the people most active in the circulation of the letter. Be so 
good as to attend to this inquiry somewhat particularly, as I have 
different reasons of some moment for setting it on foot. 

I remain, &c. 

To Jeremiah Wadsworth. 


HARTFORD, August 26, 1787. 


I received your favor this day, with the inclosed copy of a 
letter, said to be circulating in this State. Some time since a 
paragraph in the New Haven papers hinted at such a letter, and 


appeared to be written to secure the Anti-federal party or alarm 
them. And I believed it was well intended, as it seemed to be 
meant to prepare them to comply with the doings of the Con 
vention, lest worse .befell them ; but the close of the letter 
appears to be calculated for other purposes. Wetmore has 
always associated with men who wished well to America, and a 
good Government. He is half-brother to the spirited Federal 
writer in our papers, who signs himself Cato; and if he has 
really written or circulated the letter in question, I am quite at 
a loss to know his intentions. I have communicated this matter 
to Col. Humphreys, in confidence, who is on his way to New 
Haven, where Wetmore lives, though formerly of Hartford. He 
will inquire carefully into the matter, and write you. He has 
lived in the same town with Wetmore, and can easily fathom 
him. Wetmore is naturally sanguine, has some talents, and I 
believe, is enterprising, but fickle. Who the active people in 
this business are, I have yet to learn, as it certainly has not cir 
culated hereabouts. But from Humphreys you may expect to 
know all that is true, in Wetmore's neighborhood. I have 
always been Humphreys' friend, but a nearer acquaintance with 
him convinces me he is a man of great integrity, and such talents 
as would wear well in any employment of confidence. If he 
comes to New-York I wish you to be more acquainted with 

I am, dear Sir, 

Your very humble servant, 



NEW- YORK, August 28, 1787. 


I wrote you, some days since, to request you to inform me 
when there was a prospect of your finishing, as I intended to be 
with you, for certain reasons, before the conclusion. 

442 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [&. 30. 

It is whispered here, that some late changes in your scheme 
have taken place, which give it a higher tone. Is this the case ? 
I leave town to-day to attend a circuit in a neighboring county, 
from which I shall return the last of the week, and shall be glad 
to find a line from you, explanatory of the period of the probable 
termination of your business. 


NEW HAVEN, Sept. 16, 1787. 


Our friend Col. Wadsworth has communicated to me a letter, 
in which you made inquiries respecting a political letter that 
has lately circulated in this State. I arrived in this town yester 
day, and have since conversed with several intelligent persons 
on the subject. It appears to have been printed in a Fairfield 
paper as long ago as the 25th of July. I have not been able to 
trace it to its source. Mr. Wetmore informs me, that when he 
first saw this letter it was in the hands of one Jared Mansfield, 
who, I believe, has formerly been reputed a Loyalist. Indeed it 
seems to have been received and circulated with avidity by that 
class of people, whether it was fabricated by them or not. I 
think, however, there is little doubt that it was manufactured in 
this State. I demanded of Mr. Wetmore what he thought were 
the wishes and objects of the writer of that letter. He said, he 
believed it might be written principally for the amusement of 
the author, and perhaps with some view -to learn whether the 
people were not absolutely indifferent to all government and 
dead to all political sentiment. 

Before I saw the letter in question, a paragraph had been 
published by Mr. Meigs, giving an account of it, and attempting 
to excite the apprehensions of the Anti-federalists, with an idea, 
that the most disastrous consequences are to be expected, un 
less we shall accept the proceedings of the Convention. Some 


think this was the real design of the fictitious performance, but 
others, with more reason, that it was intended to feel the public 
pulse, and to discover whether the public mind would be startled 
with propositions of Koyalty. The quondam tories have un 
doubtedly conceived hopes of a future union with Great Britain, 
from the inefficacy of our Government, and the tumults which 
prevailed in Massachusetts during the last winter. I saw a letter, 
written at that period, by a Clergyman of considerable reputa 
tion in Nova Scotia, to a person of eminence in this State, stating 
the impossibility of our being happy under our present Consti 
tution, and proposing (now we could think and argue calmly on 
all the consequences) that the efforts of the moderate, the virtu 
ous, and the brave, should be exerted to effect a reunion with 
the parent State. He mentioned, among other things, how 
instrumental the Cincinnati might be, and how much it would 
redound to their emolument. It seems, by a conversation I have 
had here, that the ultimate practicability of introducing the 
Bishop of Osnaburgh is not a novel idea among those who were 
formerly termed Loyalists. Ever since the peace it has been oc 
casionally talked of and wished for. Yesterday, where I dined, 
half jest half earnest he was given as the first toast. 

I leave you now, my dear friend, to reflect how ripe we are 
for the most mad and ruinous project that can be suggested, 
especially when, in addition to this view, we take into considera 
tion how thoroughly the patriotic part of the community the 
friends of an efficient Government, are discouraged with the pre 
sent system, and irritated at the popular demagogues who are 
determined to keep themselves in office, at the risk of every 
thing. Thence apprehensions are formed, that though the mea 
sures proposed by the Convention, may not be equal to the 
wishes of the most enlightened and virtuous, yet that they will 
be too high-toned to be adopted by our popular assemblies. 
Should that happen, our political ship will be left afloat on a sea 
of chance, without a rudder as well as without a pilot. 

I am happy to see you have (some of you) had the honest 
boldness to attack in a public paper, the Anti-federal dogmas of a 
great personage in your State. Go on and prosper. Were the 

444 HAMILTON'S WORKS. ^T. 30. 

men of talents and honesty, throughout the Continent, properly 
combined into one phalanx, I am confident they would be com 
petent to hew their way through all opposition. Were there no 
little jealousies, bickerings and unworthy sinister views, to divert 
them from their object, they might by perseverance, establish a 
Government calculated to promote the happiness of mankind, 
and to make the Eevolution a blessing instead of a curse. 

I think it is probable that I shall soon go to the southward ; 
in the mean time, I beg you to be persuaded that I am, with 
sentiments of sincere friendship and esteem, 
My dear Hamilton, 

Your most obedient and most humble serv't, 

Col. Hamilton. 




You probably saw, some time since, some animadversions on 
certain expressions of Governor Clinton, respecting the Conven 
tion. You may have seen a piece, signed " A Eepublican," at 
tempting to bring the fact into question, and endeavoring to 
controvert the conclusions drawn from it, if true. My answer 
you will find in the inclosed. I trouble you with it merely from 
that anxiety, which is natural to every man, to have his veracity 
at least stand in a fair light. The matter seems to be given up 
by the Governor, and the fact, with the inferences from it, stand 
against him in fall force, and operate as they ought to do. 

It is, however, of some importance to the party to diminish 
whatever credit or influence I may possess, and to effect this, 
they stick at nothing. Among many contemptible artifices prac 
tised by them, they have had recourse to an insinuation, that I 
palmed myself upon you, and that you dismissed me from your 
family. This I confess hurts my feelings, and if it obtains credit, 
will require a contradiction. 


You, sir, will undoubtedly recollect the manner in which I 
came into your family, and went out of it ; and know how desti 
tute of foundation such insinuations are. My confidence in your 
justice will not permit me to doubt your readiness to put the 
matter in its^ true light in your answer to this letter. It cannot 
be my wish to give any complexion to the affair which might 
excite the least scruple in you ; but I confess it would mortify 
me to lie under the imputation, either of having obtruded myself 
into the family of a General, or of having been turned out of it. 

The new Constitution is as popular in this city as it is possible 
for any thing to be, and the prospect thus far is favorable to it 
throughout the State. But there is no saying what turn things 
may take when the full flood of official influence is let loose 
against it. This is to be expected ; for though the Governor 
has not publicly declared himself, his particular connections and 
confidential friends are loud against it. 

Mrs. Hamilton joins in respectful compliments to Mrs. Wash 

I remain with perfect esteem, 

Your Excellency's obedient servant, 



PARIS, October 15, 1787. 


While you have been attending your most important Con 
vention, debates were also going on in France respecting the 
constitutional rights, and matters of that kind. Grave reforms 
are taking place at court. The parliaments are remonstrating, 
and our provincial assemblies begin to pop out. Amidst many 
things that were not much to the purpose, some good principles 
have been laid out ; and, although our affairs have a proper ar 
rangement, the nation will not in the last be the loser. The 
prime minister is a man of candor, honesty, and abilities. But 

446 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [&T. 30. 

now the rumor of war sets us a-going. Not that France is wish 
ing for it, and Great Britain ought to be satisfied with an advan 
tageous treaty of commerce, and the profit of hers and Prussia's 
treachery in Holland. But, while I consider the madness of the 
Turks, the movements of the Imperial Court, the % folly of his 
Prussian Majesty, the late catastrophe in Holland, and the cry of 
England for war, I hardly think that the peaceful dispositions of 
this ministry and, they say, of Mr. Pitt will be able to extin 
guish a fire that is catching in every corner of Europe. It would 
be consistent with my inclination and best views that America 
be engaged in an active co-operation. But as I do not think 
it consistent with her interest, I have taken the liberty to ex 
press my ideas in an official letter to Mr. Jay, to whom I refer 
you. It seems to me, that a friendly, helping neutrality, would 
be useful to France, profitable to the United States, and perfectly 
safe on the footing of the treaties. Should America be forced to 
war, I wish it would be for the last campaign time enough to 
occupy Canada and Newfoundland. But I see no inconvenience 
in privateering with French letters of marque. 

Inclosed is the journal of a preliminary assembly in Au- 
vergne. I am returning there as soon as we have done some ar 
rangements respecting American commerce, which will result on 
as good footing in this kingdom as it is for the moment possible. 
The ministry are more favorably disposed. 

I hope you will be satisfied with Count de Maurice and 
the Countess de Brehan, his sister-in-law. I beg leave to intro 
duce them both to you and Mrs. Hamilton, to whom I offer 
my most affectionate regards. Kemember me to the rest of 
the family and all friends. My best compliments wait on Gen. 
Schuyler and the doctor. Adieu, my good friend. The post is 
going to town. I have only time to tell that I am ever 

Your most affectionate friend, 


jEi. 30.] CORRESPONDENCE. 447 


MOUNT VERNON, October 18, 1787. 


Your favor, without date, came to my hand by the last post. 
It is with unfeigned concern I perceive that a political dispute 
has arisen between Grov. Clinton and yourself. For both of you 
I have the highest esteem and regard. But as you say it is in 
sinuated by some of your political adversaries, and may obtain 
credit, "that you palmed yourself upon me and was dismissed 
from my family," and call upon me to do you justice by a recital 
of the facts ; I do, therefore, explicitly declare, that both charges 
are entirely unfounded. With respect to the first, I have no 
cause to believe that you took a single step to accomplish, or 
had the most distant idea of receiving an appointment in my 
family till you were invited thereto. And with respect to the 
second, that your quitting it was altogether the effect of your 
own choice. 

When the situation of this country calls loudly for unanimity 
and vigor, it is to be lamented that gentlemen of talent and 
character should disagree in their sentiments for promoting the 
public weal ; but unfortunately this ever has been, and more 
than probable ever will be, the case in the affairs of man. 

Having scarcely been from home since my return from Phil 
adelphia, I can give but little information with respect to the 
general reception of the new constitution in this State. In Alex 
andria, however, and some of the adjacent counties, it has been 
embraced with an enthusiastic warmth of which I had no con 
ception. I expect, notwithstanding, violent opposition will be 
given to it by some characters of weight and influence in the 

Mrs. Washington unites with me in sending her best wishes 
for Mrs, Hamilton and yourself. 
I am, dear Sir, 

Your most obedient and affectionate friend, 


448 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [M?. 30. 


October 30, 1787. 

I am much obliged to your Excellency for the explicit man 
ner in which you contradict the insinuations mentioned in my 
last letter. The only use I shall make of your answer will be 
to put it into the hands of a few friends. 

The constitution proposed has in this State warm friends, 
and warm enemies. The first impressions every where are in 
its favor ; but the artillery of its opponents makes some impres 
sion. The event cannot yet be foreseen. The inclosed is the 
first number of a series of papers to be written in its defence. 

I send you also, at the request of the Baron De Steuben, a 
printed pamphlet, containing the grounds of an application lately 
made to Congress. He tells me there is some reference to you, 
the object of which he does not himself seem clearly to under 
stand ; but imagines it may be in your power to be of service 
to him. 

There are public considerations that induce me to be some 
what anxious for his success. He is fortified with materials, 
which, in Europe, could not fail to establish the belief of the 
contract he alleges. The documents of service he possesses are 
of a nature to convey an exalted idea of them. The compensa 
tions he has received, though considerable, if compared with 
those which have been received by American officers, will, 
according to European ideas, be very scanty in application to a 
stranger who is acknowledged to have rendered essential ser 
vices. Our reputation abroad is not at present too high. To 
dismiss an old soldier empty and hungry, to seek the bounty of 
those on whom he has no claims, and to complain of unkind 
returns and violated engagements, will certainly not tend to 
raise it. I confess, too, there is something in my feelings which 
would incline me in this case to go farther than might be strictly 
necessary, rather than drive a man, at the Baron's time of life, 
who has been a faithful servant, to extremities. And this is un 
avoidable if he does not succeed in his present attempt. What 


lie asks would, all calculations made, terminate in this, an allow 
ance of his five hundred and eighty guineas a year. He only 
wishes a recognition of the contract. He knows that until 
affairs mend no money can be produced. I do not know how 
far it may be in your power to do him any good ; but I shall be 
mistaken if the considerations I have mentioned do not appear 
to your Excellency to have some weight. 

I remain, with great respect and esteem, 

Your Excellency's obedient servant, 

His Excellency General Washington. 


MOUNT VERNON, November 10, 1787. 


I thank you for the pamphlet, and for the Gazette, contained 
in your letter of the 30th ult. For the remaining numbers of 
Publius, I shall acknowledge myself obliged, as I am persuaded 
the subject will be well handled by the author. 

The new constitution has, as the public prints will have in 
formed you, been handed to the people of this State by a unan 
imous vote of the Assembly, but it is not to be inferred from 
hence that its opponents are silenced. On the contrary there 
are many, and some powerful ones some of whom, it is said, 
by overshooting the mark, have lessened their weight ; be this as 
it may, their assiduity stands unrivalled, whilst the friends to the 
constitution content themselves with barely avowing their appro 
bation of it. Thus stands the matter with us at present, yet my 
opinion is that the major voice is favorable. 

Application has been made to me by Mr. Secretary Thomp 
son (by order of Congress), for a copy of the report of a com 
mittee, which was appointed to confer with the Baron De Steu- 
ben, on his first arrival in this country, forwarded to me by Mr. 
President Laurens. This I have accordingly sent. It throws 

VOL. I. 29 


no other light on the subject than such as is to be derived from 
the disinterested conduct of the Baron. No terms are made by 
him, " nor will he accept of any thing but with general appro 
bation." I have, however, in my letter inclosing this report to 
the Secretary, taken occasion to express an unequivocal wish 
that Congress would reward the Baron for his services, sacrifices, 
and merits, to his entire satisfaction. It is the only way in 
which I could bring my sentiments before that honorable body, 
as it has been an established principle with me, to ask nothing 
from it. 

With very great esteem and regard, 
I am, dear Sir, 

Your most obedient servant, 



NEW-YORK, April 3, 1788. 

I have been very delinquent, my dear sir, in not thanking 
you for your letter from Philadelphia. The remarks you made 
on a certain subject are important, and will be attended to. 

There is truly much embarrassment in the case. 

I think, however, the principles we have talked of, are not 
only just, but will apply to the other departments. Nor will the 
consequences appear so disagreeable as they may seem at first 
sight, when we attend to the true import of the rule established. 
The States retain all the authorities they were before possessed 
of, not alienated in the three modes pointed out ; but this does 
not include cases which are the creatures of the new Constitu 
tion. For instance, the crime of treason against the United 
States immediately is a crime known only to the new Constitu 
tion. There of course was no power in the State constitutions to 
pardon that crime. There will therefore be none under the 
new, &c. This is something like, it seems to me, to afford the 
best solution of the difficulty. I send you the Federalist from 


the beginning to the conclusion of the commentary on the Ex 
ecutive Branch. If our suspicions of the author be right, he 
must be too much engaged to make a rapid progress in what 
remains. The Court of Chancery and a Circuit Court are now 

We are told that your election has succeeded, with which 
we all felicitate ourselves. I will thank you for an account of 
the result generally. In this State our prospects are much as 
you left them. A moot point which side will prevail. Our 
friends to the northward are active. 
I remain, 

Your affectionate obedient servant, 



May, 4, 1788. 


I believe I am in your debt a letter or two, which is owing 
to my occupation in relation to the elections, &c. 

These are now over in this State, but the result is not known. 
All depends upon Albany, where both sides claim the victory. 
Our doubts will not be removed till the latter end of the month. 
I hope your expectations of Virginia have not diminished. 

Eespecting the first volume of Publius I have executed your 
commands. The books have been sent addressed to the care of 
Governor Kandolph. The second, we are informed, will be out 
in the course of a week, and an equal number shall be forwarded. 
Inclosed is a letter, committed to my care by Mr. Yanderkemp, 
which I forward with pleasure. 

Believe me, with great attachment, 



452 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [^Ei. 31. 


NEW- YORK, May 19, 1788. 


I acknowledge my delinquency in not thanking you before for 
your obliging letter from Richmond. But the truth is, that I 
have been so overwhelmed in avocations of one kind or another, 
that I have scarcely had a moment to spare to a friend. You, I 
trust, will be the less disposed to be inexorable, as I hope you 
will believe there is no one for whom I have more inclination 
than yourself I mean of the male kind. 

Your account of the situation of Virginia was interesting, and 
the present appearances, as represented here, justify your con 
jectures. It does not, however, appear that the adoption of the 
constitution can be considered as out of doubt in that State. Its 
conduct upon the occasion will certainly be of critical import 

In this State, as far as we can judge, the elections have gone 
wrong. The event, however, will not certainly be known till 
the end of the month. Violence, rather than moderation, is to 
be looked for from the opposite party. Obstinacy seems the 
prevailing trait in the character of its leader. The language is, 
that if all the other States adopt, this is to persist in refusing the 
constitution. It is reduced to a certainty, that Clinton has in 
several conversations declared the Union unnecessary ; though I 
have the information through channels which do not v permit a 
public use to be made of it. 

We have, notwithstanding this unfavorable complexion of 
things, two sources of hope one, the chance of a ratification by 
nine States, before we decide, and the influence of this upon the 
firmness of the followers ; the other, the probability of a change 
of sentiment in the people, auspicious to the Constitution. 

The current has been for some time running towards it ; 
though the whole flood of official influence, accelerated by a tor 
rent of falsehood, early gave the public opinion so violent a 
direction in a wrong channel, that it was not possible suddenly 
to alter its course. This is a mighty stiff simile ; but you know 


what I mean ; and after having started it, I did not choose to 

give up the chase. 

Adieu. Yours sincerely, 


The members of the Convention ^ in this city, by a majority 
of nine or ten to one, will be : John Jay, Eobert R Livingston, 
Kichard Morris, John Sloss Hobart, James Duane, Isaac Eosevelt, 
Kichard Harrison, Nicholas Low, Alexander Hamilton. 

Gr. Morris, Esq. 


NEW-YORK, May 19, 1788. 

Some days since, I wrote to you, my dear sir, inclosing a 
letter from a Mr. Yanderkemp, &c. 

I then mentioned to you that the question of a majority for 
or against the Constitution, would depend upon the County of 
Albany. By the later accounts from that quarter, I fear much 
that the issue there has been against us. 

As Clinton is truly the leader of his party, and is inflexibly 
obstinate, I count little on overcoming opposition by reason. 
Our only chances will be the previous ratification by nine 
States, which may shake the firmness of his followers ; and a 
change in the sentiments of the people, which have, for some 
time, been travelling towards the Constitution, though the first 
impressions, made by every species of influence and artifice, were 
too strong to be eradicated in time to give a decisive turn to the 
elections. We shall leave nothing undone to cultivate a favor 
able disposition in the citizens at large. 

The language of the Anti-federalists is, that if all the other 
States adopt, New-York ought still to hold out. I have the 
most direct intelligence, but in a manner which forbids a public 
use being made of it, that Clinton has, in several conversations, 
declared his opinion of the inutility of the UNION. It is an un 
happy reflection, that the friends to it should, by quarrelling for 
straws among themselves, promote the designs of its adversaries. 

454 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [J T . 31. 

We think here that the situation of your State is critical. Let 
me know what you now think of it. I believe you meet nearly 
at the time we do. It will be of vast importance that an exact 
communication should be kept up between us at that period ; 
and the moment any decisive question is taken, if favorable, I 
request you to dispatch an express to me with pointed orders to 
make all possible diligence, by changing horses, &c. All ex 
pense shall be thankfully and liberally paid. I executed your 
commands respecting the first volume of the Federalist. I sent 
forty of the common copies and twelve of the finer ones, ad 
dressed to the care of Governor Eandolph. The printer an 
nounces the second volume in a day or two, when an equal 
number of the two kinds shall also be forwarded. He informs 
that the Judicial Department Trial by Jury Bill of Eights, &c., 
is discussed in some additional papers which have not yet ap 
peared in the Gazettes. 

I remain, 

With great sincerity and^attachment, 

James Madison. 


NEW-YORK, June 8, 1788. 


In my last, I think, I informed you that the elections had 
turned out, beyond expectation, favorable to the Anti-federal 
party. They have a majority of two-thirds in the Convention, 
and, according to the best estimate I can form, of about four- 
sevenths in the community. The views of the leaders in this city 
are pretty well ascertained to be turned towards a long adjourn 
ment ; say, till next spring or summer. Their incautious ones 
observe, that this will give an opportunity to the State to see hotv 
the government works, and to act according to circumstances. 

My reasonings on the fact are to this effect : The leaders of 
the party hostile to the Constitution are equally hostile to the 
Union. They are, however, afraid to reject the Constitution at 


once, because that step would bring matters to a crisis between 
this State and the States which had adopted the Constitution, 
and between the parties in the State. A separation of the South 
ern District from the other parts of the State, it is perceived, 
would become the object of the Federalists, and of the neigh 
boring States. They therefore resolve upon a long adjourn 
ment, as the safest and most artful course to effect their final 
purpose. They suppose, that when the Government gets into 
operation, it will be obliged to take some steps in respect to 
revenue, &c., which will furnish topics of declamation to its 
enemies in the several States, and will strengthen the minorities. 
If any considerable discontent should show itself, they will stand 
ready to head the opposition. If, on the contrary, the thing- 
should go on smoothly, and the sentiments of our own people 
should change, they can elect to come into the Union. They 
at all events take the chances of time and the chapter of acci 

How far their friends in the country will go with them, I am 
not able to say, but, as they have always been found very ob 
sequious, we have little reason to calculate upon an uncom 
pliant temper in the present instance. For my own part, the 
more I can penetrate the views of the Anti-federal party in this 
State, the more I dread the consequences of the non-adoption of 
the Constitution by any of the other States the more I fear an 
eventual disunion, and civil war. Grod grant that Virginia may 
accede. The example will have a vast influence on our politics. 
New Hampshire, all accounts give us to expect, will be an 
assenting State. 

The number of the volumes of the Federalist which you 
desired, have been forwarded, as well the second as the first, to 
the care of Governor Kandolph. It was impossible to correct a 
certain error. 

In a former letter, I requested you to communicate to me, by 
express, the event of any decisive question in favor of the Consti 
tution, authorizing changes of horses, &c., with an assurance to 
the person that he will be liberally paid for his diligence. 


James Madison. 

456 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [&T. 31. 


RICHMOND, June 9, 1788. 


The heat of the weather, &c., has laid me up with a bilious 
attack : I am not able, therefore, to say more than a few words. 

No material indications have taken place since my last. The 
chance at present seems to be in our favor. But it is possible 
things may take another turn. Oswald of Philadelphia came 
here on Saturday ; and has closet interviews with the leaders of 
the opposition. 

Yours, affectionately, 

Alex. Hamilton, Esq. 



BOSTON, June 12, 1788. 


I have made an arrangement to forward by express the result 
of the Convention of New Hampshire to Springfield, in this 
State, from which place Gen. Knox has engaged a conveyance 
to you at Poughkeepsie. Those who are best informed of the 
situation of the question, in New Hampshire, are positive that 
the decision will be such as we wish, and from the particular 
parts which I have heard, I can entertain no fear of a disappoint 
ment from that quarter. The accession of New Hampshire will 
present the subject to your Convention in a new, and indeed, an 
extraordinary light. I think your opponents, powerful as they 
may be, will be greatly perplexed, although they may outnum 
ber you, and a small majority of the people of the State may be 
on their side, yet I cannot think they will have the hardiness to 
negative the question. 

You may pronounce, with the utmost confidence, that, the 
decision of our Convention has proved entirely satisfactory to 


our people. I have made a business of conversing with men 
from all parts of the State, and am completely satisfied that the 
Constitution is highly popular ; that its opponents are now very 
few, and those few hourly diminishing. Be assured that the 
organization of the Government (by nine States, is considered as 
certain), although a subject of delicacy, is most earnestly de 
sired, and from the conversation of both yeoman and politician, 
I am persuaded, that the people of Massachusetts are sufficiently 
mature and firm, to execute, so far as depends on them, what 
shall be proper as good subjects of the new Government. 


Yours, &c., 

Col. A. Hamilton. 

Pray mention to Knox that I should have written to him 
had I not supposed him on his way here. 


RICHMOND, June 16, 1788. 


Yours of the 8th has just come to hand. I mentioned in my 
last that Oswald had been here in consultation with the Anti- 
federal leaders. The contents of your letter confirm the idea 
that a requisition for delay is on foot between the opposition 
here and with you. We have conjectured for some days, that 
the policy is to spin out the session, in order to receive over 
tures from your Convention ; or, if that cannot be, to weary the 
members into an adjournment, without taking any decision. It 
is presumed, at the same time, that they do not despair of carry 
ing the point of previous amendments, which is preferable game. 
The parties continue to be nearly balanced. If we have a ma 
jority at all, it does not exceed three or four. If we lose it, 

458 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [^Ei. 31. 

Kentucke will be the cause ; they are generally, if not unani 
mously against us. 

I have been partially recovered since my last, but to-day 
have a sort of relapse. My health is not good, and the business 
is wearisome beyond expression. I wish you every happiness, 

Am yours, 





God bless you and your efforts to save me from the manifold 

misfortunes which have and continue to oppress me, 

whenever I attempt to aid human nature. You will do what you 
think best, and whatever you do I will confirm, 
has acted the part of a decided rascal, and if I fail in my right, I 
may not in personal revenge. 

Our Convention is in full debate on the great business of the 
Federal Constitution. "We possess, as yet, in defiance of great 
overtures, a majority, but very small indeed. 

A correspondence has certainly been opened through a Mr. 
0. of Philadelphia, from the malcontents of P. and N. Y. to us. 
It has its operation, but I believe we are still safe, unless the 
question of adjournment be introduced, and love of home may 
induce some of our friends to abandon their principles. 


H. LEE. 


RICHMOND, June 20, 1788. 


Our debates have advanced as far as the judiciary depart 
ment, against which a great effort is making. The appellate cog 
nizance of fact, and an extension of the power to causes between 


citizens of different States, with some lesser objections, are the topics 
chiefly dwelt on. The retrospection to cases antecedent to the 
Constitution, such as British debts, and an apprehended revival 
of the Fairfax, Indiana, Yandalia, &c., claims, are also brought 
into view in all the terrific colors which imagination can give 
them. A few days more will probably produce a decision, though 
it is surmised, that something is expected from your Convention 
in consequence of the mission formerly suggested to you. Delay 
and an adjournment will be tried, if the adverse party find their 
numbers inferior, and can prevail on themselves to remain here 
till the other side can be wearied into that mode of relieving 
themselves. At present, it is calculated, that we still retain a 
majority of three or four ; and if we can weather the storm 
against the part under consideration, I shall hold the danger to 
be pretty well over. There is nevertheless a very disagreeable 
uncertainty in the case ; and the more so, as there is a possibility 
that our present strength may be miscalculated. 

Yours, affectionately, 



POUGHKEEPSIE, June, 1788. 


Your letter of the 20th came to hand two days since. I re 
gret that your prospects are not yet reduced to greater certainty. 
There is more and more reason to believe that our conduct will 
be influenced by yours. 

Our discussions have not yet travelled beyond the power of 
taxation. To-day we shall probably quit this ground to pass to 
another. Our arguments confound, but do not convince. Some 
of the leaders, however, appear to be convinced by circumstances, 
and to be desirous of a retreat. This does not apply to the chief, 
who wishes to establish Clintonism on the basis of Anti-fede 

I remain affectionately yours, 


460 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [&T. 31. 


POUGHKEEPSIE, June 21, 1788. 

Yesterday, my dear sir, the Convention made a House. That 
day and this have been spent in preliminary arrangements. To 
morrow, we go into a committee of the whole on the Constitution. 
There is every appearance that a full discussion will take place, 
which will keep us together at least a fortnight. It is not easy to 
conjecture what will be the result. Our adversaries greatly out 
number us. The leaders gave indications of a pretty desperate 
disposition in private conversations previous to the meeting ; but 
I imagine the minor partisans have their scruples, and an air of 
moderation is now assumed. So far the thing is not despaired 
of. A happy issue with you must have considerable influence 
upon us. I have time to add nothing more than the assurances 
of my sincere attachment. 



POUGHKEEPSIE, June 21, 1788. 

MY DEAR Sra : 

I thank you for your letter of the 9th instant, and am glad to 
learn that you think the chance is in your favor. I hope no dis 
agreeable change may appear. Yet, I own I fear something from 
your indisposition. 

Our debate here began on the clause respecting the propor 
tion of representation, &c., which has taken up two days. To 
morrow, I imagine, we shall talk about the power over elections. 
The only good information I can give you is, that we shall be 
some time together, and take the chance of events. 

The object of the party at present is undoubtedly conditional 
amendments. What effect events may have cannot precisely be 
foreseen. I believe the adoption by New Hampshire is certain. 

Yours, affectionately, 




RICHMOND, June 22, 1788. 


The Judiciary Department has been on the anvil for several 
days, and I presume will still be a further subject of disquisition. 
The attacks on it have apparently made less impression than was 
feared. But they may be secretly felt by particular interests that 
could not make the acknowledgment, and we choose to ground 
their vote against the Constitution in other motives. In the 
course of this week we hope for a close of the business in some 
form or other. The opponents will probably bring forward a 
bill of rights, with sundry other amendments, as conditions of 
ratification. Should these fail, or be despaired of, an adjourn 
ment will, I think, be attempted. And in case of disappoint 
ment here also, some predict a secession. I do not myself con 
cur in the last apprehension, though I have thought it prudent 
to withhold, by a studied fairness in every step on the side of the 
Constitution, every pretext for rash experiments. The plan me 
ditated by the friends of the Constitution is to preface the ratifi 
cation with some plain and general truths that cannot affect the 
validity of the act, and to subjoin a recommendation, which may 
hold up amendments as objects to be pursued in the constitutional 
mode. These expedients are rendered prudent by the nice bal 
ance of numbers, and the scruples entertained by some who are 
in general well affected. Whether they will secure us a majority, 
I dare not positively to declare. Our calculations promise us 
success by three or four, or possibly five or six votes. But were 
there no possibility of mistaking the opinions of some, in re 
viewing those of so many, the smallness of the majority suggests 
the danger from ordinary casualties, which may vary the result. 
It unluckily happens that our legislature, which meets at this 
place to-morrow, consists of a considerable majority of Anti- 
federal members. This is another circumstance that ought to 
check our confidence. As individuals they may have some influ 
ence ; and, as coming immediately from the people at large, they 


can give any color they please to the popular sentiments at this 
moment, and may in that mode throw a bias on the representa 
tives of the people in Convention. 

Yours, affectionately, 



POUGHKEEPSIE, Friday morning, June 27, 1788. 

A day or two ago, General Schuyler, at my request, sent for 
ward to you an express with an account of the adoption of the 
Constitution by New Hampshire. We eagerly wait for further 
intelligence from you, as our chance of success depends upon you. 
There are some slight symptoms of relaxation in some of the 
leaders, which authorizes a gleam of hope, if you do well, but 
certainly I think not otherwise. 


To Hon. James Madison, Jr. 


RICHMOND, June 27, 1788. 


This day put an end to the existence of our Convention. The 
inclosed is a copy of the Act of Eatification. It has been fol 
lowed by a number of recommendatory alterations, many of 
them highly objectionable. One of the most so is an article pro 
hibiting direct taxes where effectual laws shall be passed by the 
States for the purpose. It was impossible to prevent this error. 
The minority will sign an address to the people. The genius of 
it is unknown to me. It is announced as an exhortation to 
acquiesce in the result of the Convention. Notwithstanding the 


fair propositions made by some, I am so uncharitable as to sus 
pect, that the ill-will to the Constitution will produce every peace 
able effort to disgrace and destroy it. Mr. Henry declared, pre 
vious to the final que.sti.on, that although he should submit as a 
quiet citizen, he should wait with impatience for the favorable 
moment of regaining, in a constitutional way, the lost liberties of 
his country. My conjecture is, that exertions will be made to 
engage two-thirds of the legislatures in the task of regularly un 
dermining the Government. This hint may not be unworthy of 
your attention. 

Yours, affectionately, 



June 31, 1788. 

Inclosed is the final result of our conventional deliberations. 
The intended address of the minority proved to be of a nature 
apprehended by me. It was rejected by the party themselves, 
when proposed to them, and produced an auspicious conclusion 
to the business. As I shall set out in a few days for New- York, 
I postpone further explanations. I have this instant the commu 
nications from New Hampshire via Poughkeepsie ; also, your 
two favors of the 19th and 20th. 

Yours, affectionately, 



July 8, 1788. 


I felicitate you sincerely on the event in Virginia, but my sa 
tisfaction will be allayed if I discover too much facility in the 
business of amendment-making. I fear the system will be 

464 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [JSi. 31. 

wounded in some of its vital parts by too general a concurrence 
in some very injudicious recommendations. I allude more parti 
cularly to the power of taxation. The more I consider requisition 
in any shape, the more I am out of humor with it. "We yester 
day passed through the Constitution. To-day some definitive 
proposition is to be brought forward, but what we are at a loss to 
judge. We have good reason to believe that our opponents are 
not agreed, and this affords some ground of hope. Different 
things are thought of conditions precedent, or previous amend 
ments ; conditions subsequent, or the proposition of amendments, 
upon condition that if they are not adopted within a limited time, 
the State shall be at liberty to withdraw from the Union ; and 
lastly, recommendatory amendments. In either case, constructive 
declarations will be carried as far as possible. We will go as far 
as we can in the latter without invalidating the act, and will con 
cur in rational recommendations. The rest for our opponents. 
We are informed there has been a disturbance in the city of 
Albany, on the 4th of July, which has occasioned bloodshed. 
The Anti-federalists were the aggressors, and the Federalists the 
victors. Thus stand our accounts at present. We trust, how 
ever, the matter has passed over, and tranquillity been restored. 

Yours, affectionately, 



POUGHKEEPSIE, Saturday, July, 1788. 

I thank you, my dear sir, for yours by the post. Yesterday, 
I communicated to Duer our situation, which I presume he will 
have communicated to you. It remains exactly the same. No 
further question having been taken, I fear the footing I men 
tioned to Duer is the best upon which it can be placed ; but 
every thing possible will yet be attempted to bring the party 
from that stand to an unqualified ratification. Let me know 
your idea upon the possibility of our being received on that 
plan. You will understand that the only qualification will be the 

jEi. 31.] CORRESPONDENCE. 465 

reservation of a right to recede, in case our amendments have not 
been decided upon in one of the modes pointed out by the Consti 
tution within a certain number of years, perhaps five or seven. If 
this can in the first instance be admitted as a ratification, I do 
not fear any further consequences. Congress will, I presume, 
recommend certain amendments to render the structure of the 
Government more secure. This will satisfy the more considerate 
and honest opposers of the Constitution, and with the aid of them 
will break up the party. 

Yours, affectionately, 



NEW- YORK, Sunday evening. 


Yours, of yesterday, is this instant come to hand, and I have 
but a few minutes to answer it. I am sorry that your situation 
obliges you to listen to propositions of the nature you describe. 
My opinion is, that a reservation of a right to withdraw, if amend 
ments be not decided on under the form of the Constitution within 
a certain time, is a conditional ratification ; that it does not make 
New- York a member of the new Union, and consequently that 
she could not be received on that plan. Compacts must be re 
ciprocal this principle would not in such a case be preserved. 
The Constitution requires an adoption in toto andybr ever. It has 
been so adopted by the other States. An adoption for a limited 
time would be as defective as an adoption of some of the articles 
only. In short, any condition whatever must vitiate the ratifica 
tion. What the new Congress, by virtue of the power to admit 
new States, may be able and disposed to do in such case, I do not 
inquire, as I suppose that is not the material point at present. 
I have not a moment to add more than my fervent wishes for 
your success and happiness. The idea of reserving a right to 
withdraw was started at Eichmond, and considered as a condi 
tional ratification, which was itself abandoned as worse than a 
rejection. Yours, 


VOL. i. 30 



TINMOUTH, July 14, 1788. 


Your character as a federalist has induced me, although, per 
sonally unknown to you, to address you on a subject of very 
great importance to the State of Yermont, of which I am a 
citizen, and from which I think may be derived a considerable 
advantage to the federal cause. Ten States have now adopted 
the new federal plan of government. That it will now succeed 
is beyond a doubt ; what disputes the other States may occasion 
I know not. The people of this State, could certain obstacles 
be removed, I believe, might be induced almost unanimously to 
throw themselves into the federal scale. You are not unac 
quainted with the situation of a considerable part of our landed 
property. Many grants were formerly made by the govern 
ment of New- York, of lands within this territory while under 
that jurisdiction. On the assumption of government by the 
people of this State, the same lands, partly, it is said, for want 
of information respecting the true situation of these grants, and 
partly from the opinion prevailing with our then leaders, that 
the New- York grants within this territory were of no validity, 
have been granted to others under the authority of this State. 

It is now generally believed that, should we be received into 
the Union, the New- York grants would, in the federal courts, be 
preferred to those of Yermont. The Legislature of this State 
have in some instances made a compensation to the grantees 
under New- York, and I am persuaded, were it in their power, 
would gladly do the same for others, but they are possessed of 
no more land for that purpose. For these reasons, I presume no 
others, the Governor and some few gentlemen deeply interested 
in those lands under Yermont, have expressed themselves some 
what bitterly against the new federal plan of government. In 
deed, were we to be admitted unconditionally it would introduce 
much confusion. Now, sir, permit me to ask whether you do 
not think it probable that the federal legislature, when formed, 
might, on our accession, be induced on some terms to make a 


compensation to the New- York grantees out of their western 
land ? And whether those grantees might not be induced to 
accept of such compensation ? Let me further suggest whether 
it might be favorable for Yermont to make some of those 
amendments, which have been proposed by several States, and 
which, I think, are generally within the power of the federal 
legislature, the basis of her admission. Could the difficulties I 
have mentioned be removed, all interest in opposition could 
here be reconciled. The idea of procuring justice to be done those 
whom we had perhaps injured by our too precipitate measures, 
and of being connected with a Government which promises to be 
efficient, permanent, and honorable, would, I am persuaded, pro 
duce the greatest unanimity on the subject. If you think these 
matters worthy the attention of the friends of the Confederacy, 
be good enough to write me by my brother, who will be the 
bearer of this. 

Our Legislature will meet in October, when these matters 
will be taken up seriously. Several gentlemen of my acquaint 
ance, who are men of influence, and will be members of the 
Legislature, have requested me to procure all the information in 
my power on this subject. Any thing you may communicate 
to me in confidence will be sacredly attended to, of which Mr. 
Kelly, who writes by the same opportunity, will give you the 
fullest assurance. 

I am, Sir, with sentiments of esteem,. 

Your most obedient servant, 

Alex. Hamilton, Esq. 


POUGHKEEPSIE, July 22, 1788. 


Your brother delivered me your favor, which I received with 
pleasure, as the basis of a correspondence that may be produc 
tive of public good. 


The accession of Vermont to the Confederacy is, doubtless, 
an object of great importance to the whole ; and it appears to 
me that this is the favorable moment for effecting it upon the 
best terms for all concerned. Besides more general reasons, 
there are circumstances of the moment which will forward a 
proper arrangement. One of the first subjects of deliberation 
with the new Congress will be the independence of Kentucky, 
for which the Southern States will be anxious. The Northern 
will be glad to send a counterpoise in Vermont. These mutual 
interests and inclinations will facilitate a proper result. 

I see nothing that can stand in your way but the interfering 
claims under the grants of New-York. As to taxation, the na 
tural operation of the new system will place you exactly where 
you might wish to be. The public debt, as far as it can pru 
dently be provided for, will be by the Western lands and the 
appropriation of some general fund. There will be no distribution 
of it to particular parts of the community. The fund will be sought 
for in indirect taxation ; as for a number of years, and except in 
time of war, direct taxes would be an impolitic measure. Hence, 
as you can have no objection to your proportion of contribution 
as consumers, you can fear nothing from the article of taxation. 

I readily conceive that it will hardly be practicable to you to 
come into the Union unless you are secured from claims under 
New- York grants. Upon the whole, therefore, I think it will 
be expedient for you, as early as possible, to ratify the Constitu 
tion, " upon condition that Congress shall provide for the ex 
tinguishment of all existing claims to land under grants of the 
State of New- York, which may interfere with claims under the 
grants of the State of Vermont." You will do well to conform 
your boundary to that heretofore marked out by Congress, other 
wise insuperable difficulties would be likely to arise with this 

I should think it altogether unadvisable to annex any other 
conditions to your ratification; for there is scarcely any of 
the amendments proposed that will not have a party opposed 
to it, and there are several that will meet with a very strong 
opposition; and it would, therefore, be highly inexpedient for 

jfiT.31.] CORRESPONDENCE. 469 

you to embarrass your main object by any collateral difficul 

As I write in Convention, I have it not in my power to en 
large. You will perceive my general ideas on the subject. I 
will only add, that it will be wise to lay as little impediment as 
possible in the way of your reception into the Union. 



POUGHKEEPSIE, July 22, 1788. 


I wrote to you by the last post, since which nothing material 
has turned up here. We are debating on amendments without 
having decided what is to be done with them. There is so great 
a diversity in the views of our opponents that it is impossible to 
predict any thing. Upon the whole, however, our fears di 

Yours affectionately, 


James Madison, jr., New- York. 


NEW-YORK, Aug. 6, 1788. 


I have this moment received your letter of the thirteenth 
ultimo, and am sorry that the rules of propriety in respect to 
my situation, as a member of Congress, will not permit my act 
ing in the capacity you wish. 

My situation for some time past has prevented my acknow 
ledging one or two of your favors, which have been duly handed 
to me. I recollect that one of them contains an inquiry concern- 


ing your son, to which you will naturally desire an answer. My 
public avocations, for some time past, have put it out of my power 
to ascertain the progress he has made ; though I expect, when 
I shall be enough disengaged to examine, to find it a good 
one. It cannot fail to be so, if his diligence has been equal to 
his capacity. I shall shortly write you further on the subject. 
With great esteem, 
I remain, Sir, 

Your obedient servant, 

Mr. Samuel Broome. 


NEW-YORK, August 13, 1788. 


Captain Cochran of the British navy has requested my aid 

in recovering a family watch in the possession of . 

In compliance with his request, I have written the letter here 
with (to ), which I take the liberty to convey 

through you, in hope that if you see no impropriety in it, you 
would add your influence to the endeavor to gratify Captain 
Cochran. It is one of those things in which the affections are 
apt to be interested beyond the value of the object, and in which 
one naturally feels an inclination to oblige. 

I have delivered to Mr. Madison, to be forwarded to you, a 
set of the papers under the signature of Publius, neatly enough 
bound to be honored with a place in your library. I presume 
you have understood that the writers of these papers are chiefly 
Mr. Madison and myself, with some aid from Mr. Jay. 

I take it for granted, sir, you have concluded to comply with 
what will no doubt be the general call of your country in rela 
tion to the new Government. You will permit me to say that it 
is indispensable you should lend yourself to its first operations. 

2Ei. 31.] CORRESPONDENCE. 471 

It is of little purpose to have introduced a system, if the weightiest 
influence is not given to its firm establishment in the outset. 
I remain with the greatest esteem, 

Your obedient and humble servant, 

General Washington. 


NEW- YORK, August 29, 1788. 


We are informed here, that there is some probability 
that your Legislature will instruct your delegates to vote for 
Philadelphia as the place of the meeting of the first Congress 
under the new Government. I presume this information can 
hardly be well founded, as upon my calculations, there is not a 
State in the Union so much interested in having the temporary 
residence at New- York, as New Jersey. 

As between Philadelphia and New- York, I am mistaken if a 
greater proportion of your State will not be benefited by having 
the seat of government at the latter than the former place. 

If at the latter, too, its exposed and eccentric position will 
necessitate the early establishment of a permanent seat, and in 
passing south, it is highly probable the Government would light 
upon the Delaware in New Jersey. The Northern States do not 
wish to increase Pennsylvania, by an accession of all the wealth 
and population of the Federal City. Pennsylvania, herself, 
when not seduced by immediate possession, will be glad to concur 
in a situation on the Jersey side of the Delaware. Here are at 
once a majority of the States ; but place the Government once 
down in Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania will, of course, hold fast ; 
the State of Delaware will do the same. 

All the States south, looking forward to the time, when the 
balance of population will enable them to carry the Government 
further south (say to the Potomac), and being accommodated in 

472 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [JEx. 31. 

the mean time as well as they wish, will concur in no change. 
The Government, from the delay, will take root in Philadelphia, 
and Jersey will lose all prospect of the Federal City within her 

These appear to me calculations so obvious, that I cannot 
persuade myself New Jersey will so much oversee her interest as 
to fall, in the present instance, into the snares of Pennsylvania. 
With the sincerest respect and regard, 
I remain, dear Sir, 

Your obedient servant, 



NEWFANE, Sept. 6, 1788. 


I have received by Capt. Yille, your favor of the 22d of 
July. Since I wrote you, I have had an opportunity of convers 
ing with his Excellency, the Governor, and most of the council, 
on the subject of Vermont's accession to the Confederacy. They 
generally agree, that the terms suggested are good ; that it will 
be highly the interest of Yermont to accede ; and that the pre 
sent is likely to be a favorable crisis. But it is a question 
whether we ought to make any propositions to the present Con 
gress, or prepare matters, and wait the new arrangement. Yer 
mont will not make a point of introducing any amendments. 
We shall not be the first to feel the inconveniences, if any should 
arise, from the exercise of the new federal powers. For myself, 
I readily conceive, that direct taxation, under the new system, 
will be very inconsiderable during the continuance of peace ; yet 
I find an exemption from the expenses of the late war will have 
with the citizens of this State a very powerful effect in producing 
unanimity on the subject of a Union. 

But I hope this matter will in some way be compromised. If, 
sir, you have any thing to suggest on this subject, that may pro- 

jEi. 31.] CORRESPONDENCE. 473 

mote the public good, I should be very happy in the communi 
cation, previous to the session of Assembly in October next. 
The choice of representatives, which was on Tuesday last, has, as 
far as I have heard, succeeded favorably. Mr. Kelly, who is so 
obliging as to take charge of this letter, will be able to give you 
a more particular account than can be done in this way, as he 
has conversed largely with the Governor, Council, and other 
persons of influence, with whom he has great weight. 
I am, Sir, 

With much esteem and respect, 
Your most obedient servant, 

A. Hamilton, Esq. 


NEW- YORK, September, 1788. 


Your Excellency's friendly and obliging letter of the 28th 
ultimo, came safely to hand. I thank you for your assurance of 

seconding my application to General . The truth of that 

affair is, that he purchased the watch for a trifle of a British 
soldier, who plundered Major Cochran, at the moment of his fall, 
at Yorktown. 

I should be deeply pained, my dear sir, if your scruples in 
regard to a certain station, should be matured into a resolution 
to decline it ; though I am neither surprised at their existence, 
nor can I but agree in opinion, that the caution you observe, in 
deferring an ultimate determination, is prudent. I have, how 
ever, reflected maturely on the subject, and have come to a 
conclusion (in which I feel no hesitation), that every public and 
personal consideration will demand from you an acquiescence in 
what will certainly be the unanimous wish of your country. 
The absolute retreat which you meditated at the close of the 
late war was natural, and proper. Had the Government pro- 

4V4 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [^Ei. 31. 

duced by the revolution, gone on in a tolerable train, it would 
have been most advisable to have persisted in that retreat. But 
I am clearly of opinion, that the crisis which brought you again 
into public view, left you no alternative but to comply ; and I 
am equally clear in the opinion, that you are by that act pledged 
to take a part in the execution of the Government. I am not 
less convinced, that the impression of this necessity of your 
filling the station in question, is so universal, that you run no 
risk of any uncandid imputation by submitting to it. But even 
if this were not the case, a regard to your own reputation, as 
well as to the public good, calls upon you in the strongest 
manner, to run that risk. 

It cannot be considered as a compliment to say, that on 
your acceptance of the office of President, the success of the new 
Government, in its commencement, may materially depend. 
Your agency and influence will be not less important in pre 
serving it from the future attacks of its enemies, than they 
have been in recommending it in the first instance, to the adop 
tion of the people. Independent of all considerations drawn 
from this source, the point of light in which you stand at home 
and abroad, will make an infinite difference in the respectability 
with which the Government will begin its operations, in the 
alternative of your being or not being at the head of it. I for 
bear to urge considerations which might have a more personal 
application. What I have said will suffice for the inferences 
I mean to draw. 

First. In a matter so essential to the well-being of society, 
as the prosperity of a newly instituted government, a citizen of 
so much consequence as yourself to its success, has no option 
but to lend his services if called for. Permit me to say, it 
would be inglorious, in such a situation, not to hazard the glory, 
however great, which he might have previously acquired. 

Secondly. Your signature to the proposed system, pledges 
your judgment for its being such an one as, upon the whole, was 
worthy of the public approbation. If it should miscarry (as 
men commonly decide from success, or the want of it), the 
blame will, in all probability, be laid on the system itself; and 


the framers of it will have to encounter the disrepute of having 
brought about a revolution in government, without substituting 
any thing that was worthy of the effort. They pulled down one 
Utopia, it will be said, to build up another. This view of the 
subject, if I mistake not, my dear sir, will suggest to your mind 
greater hazard to that fame, which must be and ought to be dear 
to you, in refusing your future aid to the system, than in afford 
ing it. I will only add, that in my estimate of the matter, that 
aid is indispensable. 

I have taken the liberty to express these sentiments, and to 
lay before you my view of the subject. I doubt not the con 
siderations mentioned, have fully occurred to you, and I trust 
they will finally produce in your mind the same result which 
exists in mine. I flatter myself, the frankness with which I 
have delivered myself will not be displeasing to you. It has 
been prompted by motives which you would not disapprove. 
I remain, my dear Sir, 

With the sincerest respect and regard, 
Your obedient and humble servant, 



LeSdeSept. 17S& 


La lettre c'y joint de Mr. E. Peters, contienne une pfleuve, non 
equivoque, que dans mes premieres applications et iramediate- 
ment apres la paix, j'ai appuye mes preventions aux E> U. sur 
une stipulation ou contract fait en entrant dans leur service. 

Comme vous tiez de cette meme committee a Philadelphie, 
je m'en rapporte a votre memoire. Dans tous les committees 
subsequentes j'ai toujours appuy6 sur ce meme contract, et je me 
rapporte a tous les Messieurs qui successivement furent des com- 
mitte'es sur ce sujet. 

476 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [^T. 31. 

Comme vous etes de la presente Congres, je vous prie de 
communiquer la reporte de Mr. Peters a cette committee. 
J'ai 1'honneur d'etre avec affection, 

Yotre tres humble, 

Alexander Hamilton. 


NEW-YORK, Oct. 9, 1788. 

" Your last letter but one met me at Albany attending court, 
whence I am just returned. I am sorry for the schism you hint 
at among the Federalists, but I have so much confidence in the 
good management of the fast friends of the Constitution, that I 
hope no ill consequences will ensue from that disagreement. It 
will, however, be worthy of great care to avoid suffering a differ 
ence of opinion on collateral points, to produce any serious divi 
sion between those who have hitherto drawn together on the 
great national question. Permit me to add, that I do not think 
you should allow any line to be run between those who wish to 
trust alterations to future experience, and those who are desirous 
of them at the present juncture. The rage for amendments is, 
in my opinion, rather to be parried by address than encountered 
with open force ; and I should therefore be loth to learn that 
your parties had been arrayed professedly upon the distinction 
I have mentioned. 

The mode in which amendments may best be made, and 
twenty other matters, may come as pretexts for avoiding the evil, 
and securing the good. 







Your favor of the 6th of September has been duly handed to 
me, and I receive great pleasure from the hopes you appear to 
entertain of a favorable turn of affairs in Yermont in regard to 
the new Government. It is certainly an object of mutual impor 
tance to yourselves, and to the Union, and well deserves the best 
endeavors of every discerning and good man. 

I observe with satisfaction your opinion that Yermont will 
not make a point of introducing amendments. I mean as a con 
dition of her accession. That ground would be the most hazard 
ous which she could venture upon, as it is very probable that 
such amendments as might be popular with you would be 
deemed inadmissible by the friends of the system, who will 
doubtless be the most influential persons in the national councils ; 
and who would rather submit to the inconvenience of your being 
out of the Union, till circumstances should alter, than consent to 
any thing that might impair the energy of the Government. The 
article of taxation is, above all, the most delicate thing to meddle 
with ; for as plenary power in that respect must ever be consi 
dered as the vital principle of government, no abridgment or 
constitutional suspension of that power can ever, upon mature 
consideration, be countenanced by the intelligent friends of an 
effective National Government. You must, as I remarked in my 
former letter, rely upon the natural course of things, which I am 
satisfied will exempt you in ordinary times from direct taxation, 
on account of the difficulty of exercising it in so extensive a 
country, so peculiarly situated, with advantage to the revenue or 
satisfaction to the people. Though this difficulty will be gradu 
ally diminished from various causes, a considerable time must 
first elapse ; and, in the interim, you will have nothing to appre 
hend on this score. 

As far as indirect taxation is concerned, it will be impossible 
to exempt you from sharing in the burthen, nor can it be desired 


by your citizens. I repeat these ideas to impress you the more 
strongly with, my sense of the danger of touching this chord, and 
of the impolicy of perplexing the main object with any such col 
lateral experiments, while I am glad to perceive that you do 
not think your people will be tenacious on the point. 

It will be useless for you to have any view in your act to the 
present Congress. They can of course do nothing in the matter. 
All you will have to do, will be to pass an act of accession to the 
new Constitution, on the conditions upon which you mean to 
rely. It will then be for the new Government, when met, to 
declare whether you can be received on your terms or not. 

I am sorry to find that the affair of boundary is likely to create 
some embarrassment. Men's minds, every where out of your 
State, are made up upon and reconciled to that which has been 
delineated by Congress. Any departure from it must beget new 
discussions, in which all the passions will have their usual scope, 
and may occasion greater impediments than the real importance 
of the thing would justify. If, however, the further claims you 
state cannot be gotten over with you, I would still wish to see 
the experiment made, though with this clog, because I have it 
very much at heart that you should become a member of the 
Confederacy. It is, however, not to be inferred that the same 
disposition will actuate every body. In this State, the pride of 
certain individuals has too long triumphed over the public inte 
rest ; and in several of the Southern States a jealousy of North 
ern influence will prevent any great zeal for increasing in the 
national councils the number of Northern votes. 

I mention these circumstances (though I dare say they will 
have occurred to you), to show you the necessity of moderation 
and caution on your part, and the error of any sanguine calcula 
tion upon a disposition to receive you at any rate. A supposi 
tion of this nature might lead to fatal mistakes. 

In the event of an extension of your boundary beyond the 
Congressional line, would it be impracticable for you to have 
commissioners appointed to adjust any differences which might 
arise? I presume the principal object with you in the extension 
of your boundary would be to cover some private interests. This 
might be matter of negotiation. 


There is one thing which I think it proper to mention to you, 
about which I have some doubt ; that is, whether a legislative 
accession would be deemed valid. It is the policy of the system 
to lay its foundations in the immediate consent of the people. You 
will best judge how far it is safe or practicable to have recourse 
to a convention. Whatever you do, no time ought to be lost. 
The present moment is undoubtedly critically favorable. Let it 
by all means be improved. I remain, with esteem, Sir, 
Your obedient and humble servant, 


Nathaniel Chipman, Esq. 


. MOUNT VERNON, October 3, 1788. 


In acknowledging the receipt of your candid and friendly 

letter of by the last post, little more is incumbent on me 

than to thank you sincerely for the frankness with which you 
communicated your sentiments ; and to assure you that the same 
manly tone of intercourse will always be more than barely wel 
come. Indeed, it will be highly acceptable to me. I am par 
ticularly glad, in the present instance, you have dealt thus freely 
and like a friend. 

Although I could not help observing from several publica 
tions and letters, that my name had been sometimes spoken of, 
and that it was possible the contingency which is the subject of 
your letter might happen ; yet I thought it best to maintain a 
guarded silence and to back the counsel of my best friends (which 
I certainly hold in the highest estimation), rather than to hazard 
an imputation unfriendly to the delicacy of my feelings. For, 
situated as I am, I could hardly bring the question into the 
slightest discussion, or ask an opinion, even in the most confi 
dential manner, without betraying, in my judgment, some im 
propriety of conduct, or without feeling an apprehension that a 

480 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [^Ex. 31. 

premature display of anxiety might be construed into a vain 
glorious desire of pushing myself into notice as a candidate. 
Now, if I am not grossly deceived in myself, I should unfeign- 
edly rejoice in case the Electors, by giving their votes in favor 
of some other person, would save me from the disagreeable 
dilemma of being forced to accept or refuse. If that may not 
be, I am in the next place earnestly desirous of searching out 
the truth, and of knowing whether there does not exist a proba 
bility that the G-overnment would be just as happily and effectu 
ally carried into execution without my aid as with it. I am 
truly solicitous to obtain all the previous information, which the 
circumstances will afford, and to determine (when the determi 
nation can with propriety be no longer postponed) according to 
the principles of right reason and the dictates of a clear con 
science, without too great a reference to the unforeseen conse 
quences which may affect my person or reputation. Until that 
period, I may fairly hold myself open to conviction, though I 
allow your sentiments to have weight in them ; and I shall not 
pass by your arguments without giving them as dispassionate a 
consideration as I can possibly bestow on them. 

In taking a survey of the subject in whatever point of light 
I have been able to place it, I will not suppress the acknow 
ledgment, my dear sir, that I have always felt a kind of gloom 
upon my mind as often as I have been taught to expect I might, 
and perhaps must, ere long be called to make a decision. You 
will, I am well assured, believe the assertion (though I have 
little expectation it would gain credit from those who are less 
acquainted with me), that if I should receive and act under the 
appointment, the acceptance would be attended with more diffi 
dence and reluctance than ever I experienced before in my life. 
It would be, however, with a fixed and sole determination of 
lending whatever assistance might be in my power to promote 
the public weal, in hopes that, at a convenient and an early 
period, my services might be dispensed with, and that I might 
be permitted once more to retire, to pass an unclouded evening 
after the stormy day of life, in the bosom of domestic tran 


But why these anticipations ? If the friends of the Consti 
tution conceive that my administering the Government will be 
the means of its acceleration and strength, is it not probable that 
the adversaries thereof may entertain the same ideas, and of 
course make it an object of opposition? That many of this 
description will be amongst the Electors, I have no more doubt 
than I have of the part they will act at the election, which will be 
adverse to the choice of any character who, from whatever cause, 
would be likely to thwart their views. It might be impolitic 
perhaps in them to make this declaration previous to the election, 
but I shall be out in my conjectures if they do not act confor 
mably thereto at it, and prove that all the seeming moderation by 
which their present conduct is marked, is calculated to lull and 
deceive. Their plan of opposition is systematized, and a regular 
intercourse between the leaders of it in the several States (I have 
much reason to believe) is formed to render it more effectual. 
With sentiments of sincere regard and esteem, 
I am, dear Sir, 

Your most obedient humble servant, 


The Hon. Alexander Hamilton. 


NEW-YORK, October 9, 1788. 

I thank you, my dear sir, for your obliging congratulations 
on the event towards effecting which your aid as a joint laborer 
was so essential. I hope experience may show that, while it 
promotes the interest of this place, it will not be incompatible 
with public good. We are making efforts to prepare handsome 
accommodations for the session of the new Congress. 

On the subject of Yice-President, my ideas have concurred 
with yours, and I believe Mr. Adams will have the votes of this 
State. He will certainly, I think, be preferred to the other 
VOL. I. 31 

482 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [JSr. 31. 

gentleman. Yet certainly is perhaps too strong a word. I can 
conceive that the other, who is supposed to be a more pliable 
man, may command anti-federal influence. 

The only hesitation in my mind with regard to Mr. Adams 
has arisen within a day or two, from a suggestion by a particular 
gentleman that he is unfriendly in his sentiments to General 
Washington. Eichard H. Lee, who will probably, as rumor 
now runs, come from Virginia, is also in this style. The Lees 
and Adams's have been in the habit of uniting, and hence may 
spring up a cabal very embarrassing to the Executive, and of 
course to the administration of the government. Consider this, 
sound the reality of it, and let me hear from you. 

What think you of Lincoln or Knox? This is a flying 

Yours, with sincere regard, 


Mr. Sedgewick. 


STOCKBRIDGE, Oct. 16, 1788. 


Your favor of the 9th I have this moment received, and de 
tain the post a while that I may make a very few observations 
on a subject I conceive highly interesting to the efficient opera 
tions of the future Government. 

Mr. Adams was formerly infinitely more democratical than 
at present, and possessing that jealousy which always accom 
panied such a character, he was averse to repose such unlimited 
' confidence in the Commander-in-chief as then was the disposi 
tion of Congress. 

Mr. Adams is not among the number of my particular 
friends, but, as a man of unconquerable intrepidity, and of in 
corruptible integrity, as greatly experienced in the interests and 
character of this country, he possesses my highest esteem. 

His writings show that he deserves the confidence of those 


who wish energy in government, for although those writings are 
too tedious and unpleasant in perusal, yet they are evidently the 
result of deep reflection, and as they encounter popular preju 
dices are an evidence of an erect and independent spirit. 

Lincoln and Knox I love, their characters, too, I respect, but 
it is now too late to push in this State the interests of either. 
The minds of all men here seem to be fixed either on Adams or 

Our Legislature meet on the 29th. From Boston I will 
early write you on the subject, and am with sincere respect, 

Yours, affectionately, 

Hon. Mr. Hamilton. 


BOSTON, Nov. 2, 1788. 


In my last hasty letter I engaged to write to you soon after 
my arrival in this town. Various questions will be agitated in 
the Legislature (of considerable magnitude) which respect the 
organization of the government. 

There is a party of Federalists who are of opinion, that the 
Electors should be chosen by the people, and the Eepresentatives 
not in districts, but at large. These will be joined by all the 
antis probably. I yet hope they will not succeed. We yester 
day committed to a committee of both Houses the circular letter 
from your Convention. The event is uncertain, but a consider 
able number of Federalists have been brought over to the amend 
ment system. The prospect is, notwithstanding, that the real 
friends of the Constitution will prevail. Every thing depends 
upon it, and the exertion will be proportionate to the magnitude 
of the object. 

Should the Electors be chosen by the Legislature, Mr. Adams 
will probably combine all the votes of Massachusetts. I am very 

484 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [&T. 31. 

certain, that the suggestion that he is unfriendly to General 
Washington, is entirely unfounded. Mr. Hancock has been very 
explicit in patronizing the doctrine of Amendment. The other 
gentleman is for postponing the conduct of that business until it 
shall be understood from experience. 
I am, dear Sir, 

Your most obedient servant, 

The Hon. Mr. Hamilton. 


PROVIDENCE, 3d Nov., 1788. 


Your favor of 6th ulto., was duly received. I thought pro 
per to postpone replying to it till after the session of the General 
Assembly should be over, which terminated on Saturday night 
last, in order that I might have it in my power to give you, with 
more certainty, the proceedings of the Legislature, on the subject 
of the New Constitution. The minority, both in of the 

House, took unwearied pains during the session, to procure a 
Convention in the legal mode pointed out for considering the 
New Constitution ; but, sir, it proved, as heretofore, an unsuc 
cessful attempt ; for Mr. Hazard, who is . an implacable and 
powerful enemy to the new system, and the leading character in 
all the vile politics carrying on in this devoted State, had so well 
prepared the majority, that when the question was put, whether 
this State should appoint a Convention or not, the question was 
lost nearly three to one ; fifteen in favor of the motion and forty- 
four against it. After which (late on Saturday night) Mr. 
Hazard moved that a vote be passed, for printing copies of the 
circular letter from the Convention of New- York, to be distri 
buted throughout this State, and submitting to the people at 
large, the propriety of appointing delegates to meet a proposed 
Convention, for considering amendments, agreeably to the re- 


commendations of said circular letter. The vote being put, after 
much debate, it was carried in favor of the measure by three to 
one, notwithstanding every exertion of the minority, to prevent 
the adoption of so novel and unprecedented a proceeding. It 
was urged, and with truth, that should a Convention finally meet 
for the purpose of amending the Constitution, that it would be 
composed entirely of the adopting States ; and, as such, this 
State could not, upon any principles of right, expect to be ad 
mitted to a seat in that Honorable Body, as we so obstinately 
(and with our eyes open) have refused, and still neglect to 
accede to the new system. But, sir, reason and argument will 
avail nothing with those wicked and designing opposers to a 
just and honorable Federal Government. The Assembly have 
made an adjournment to the last Monday in December next, in 
an expectation to hear the report from the respective towns. 
Mr. Hazard, and a Col. John Gardener (who is entirely under 
the influence of Mr. Hazard's politics), are ordered by the Assem 
bly to go on from this State, and take their seats in Congress, as 
soon as they can leave home ; so that in a short time you will 
have those two antis to deal with. 

I am, with sincere esteem, 

Your obedient humble serv't, 

Col. Alexander Hamilton. 


MOUNT VERNON, Nov.,6, 1788. 


The Count de Moustier affording a very favorable convey 
ance for Capt. Cochran's watch, I have requested the favor of 
him to take charge of it ; and he will deliver it to you, accord 

486 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [JEn. 31. 

ingly, with Mrs. Washington's and my best wishes for you and 
Mrs. Hamilton. 

I am, dear Sir, 

Your obedient and affectionate serv't, 

The Hon. Alexander Hamilton. 


NEW-YORK, Nov. 9, 1788. 

Your last letter but one met me at Albany, attending court, 
from whence I am but just returned. Yours of the 2d instant is 
this moment handed me. 

I am very sorry for the schism you hint at among the Fede 
ralists, but I have so much confidence in the good management 
of the fast friends of the Constitution, that I hope no ill conse 
quences will ensue from that disagreement. It will, however, 
be worthy of great care to avoid suffering a difference of opinion 
on collateral points, to produce any serious division between 
those who have hitherto drawn together on the great national 

Permit me to add, that I do not think you should allow any 
line to be run between those who wish to trust alterations to 
future experience, and those who are desirous of them at the 
present juncture. The rage for amendments is, in my opinion, 
rather to be parried by address than encountered with open force. 
And I shall, therefore, be loth to learn that your parties have 
been arranged professedly upon the distinction I have mentioned. 
The mode in which amendments may best be made, and twenty 
other matters, may serve as pretexts for avoiding the evil and 
securing the good. 

On the question between Mr. H. and Mr. A., Mr. King will 
probably have informed you that I have, upon the whole, con- 


eluded that the latter ought to be supported. My measures will 
be taken accordingly. I had but one scruple, but after mature 
consideration I have relinquished it. Mr. Adams, to a sound 
understanding, has always appeared to me to add an ardent love 
for the public good ; and as his further knowledge of the world 
seems to have corrected those jealousies which he is represented to' 
have been once influenced by, I trust nothing of the kind suggested 
in my former letter will disturb the harmony of administration. 
Let me continue to hear from you, and believe me to be, with 
very great esteem and regard, 

Your friend and servant, 

T. Sedgewick, Esq. 


November 18, 1788. 


Your last two letters have duly come to hand, and the 
Count de Moustier has delivered me the watch you committed 
to his charge. Your obliging attention to this matter claims my 
particular acknowledgments. I will make no apology for ask 
ing you to take the additional trouble of forwarding the inclosed 
to the General. I take the liberty of passing it through you, 
that you may, by perusing the contents, know the situation of 
the business. 

The demand of fifty guineas is to me quite unexpected. I 
am sorry to add, that there is too good evidence that it cost a 
mere trifle to the General. This, however, I mention in confi 
dence. Nor shall I give you any further trouble on the subject. 
Whatever may be proper will be done. 

Mrs. Hamilton requests her affectionate remembrances to 
Mrs. Washington, and joins me in the best wishes for you 

I remain, dear Sir, 

Your affectionate humble serv't, 


488 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [Mi. 31. 

P. S. Your last letter, on a certain subject, I have received. 
I feel a conviction that you will finally see your acceptance to 
be indispensable. It is no compliment to say, that no other man 
can sufficiently unite the public opinion, or can give the requisite 
weight to the office, in the commencement of the Government. 
These considerations appear to me of themselves decisive. I 
am not sure that your refusal would not throw every thing into 
confusion. I am sure that it would have the worst effect imagin 
able. Indeed, as I hinted in a former letter, I think circum 
stances leave no option. 


NEW-YORK, Nov. 23 1788. 

I thank you, my dear sir, for yours of the 20th. The only 
part of it which surprises me, is what you mention respecting 
Clinton. I cannot, however, believe that the plan will succeed. 
Nor, indeed, do I think, that Clinton would be disposed to ex 
change his present appointment for that office, or risk his popu 
larity by holding both. At the same time, the attempt merits 
attention, and ought not to be neglected as chimerical or imprac 

In Massachusetts the Electors will, I understand, be ap 
pointed by the Legislature, and will be all Federal, and 'tis 
probable will be, for the most part, in favor of Adams. It is 
said, the same thing will happen in New Hampshire, and I have 
reason to believe, will be the case in Connecticut. In this State 
it is difficult to form any certain calculation. A large majority 
of the Assembly was doubtless of an Anti-federal complexion, 
but the schism in the party which has been occasioned by the 
falling off of some of its leaders in the Convention, leaves me not 
without hope, that if matters are well managed, we may procure 
a majority for some pretty equal compromise. In the Senate we 
have the superiority by one. In New Jersey there seems to be 
no question, but that the complexion of the electors will be 


Federal; and I suppose, if thought expedient, they may be 
united in favor of Adams. Pennsylvania you can best judge of. 
From Delaware, Maryland, and South Carolina, I presume, we 
may count with tolerable assurance on Federal men; and I 
should imagine, if pains are taken, the danger of an Anti-federal 
Vice-President might itself be rendered the instrument of Union. 
At any rate, their weight will not be thrown into the scale of 
Clinton, and I do not see from what quarter numbers can be 
marshalled in his favor, equal to those who will advocate Adams, 
supposing even a division in the Federal votes. 

On t the whole, I have concluded to support Adams, though I 
am not without apprehensions on the score we have conversed 
about. My principal reasons are these : First He is a declared 
partisan of deferring to future experience the expediency of 
amendments in the system, and (although I do not altogether 
adept this sentiment) it is much nearer my own than certain 
other doctrines. Secondly He is certainly a character of im 
portance in the Eastern States ; if he is not Vice-President, one of 
two worse things will be likely to happen. Either he must be 
nominated to some important office, for which he is less proper, 
or will become a malcontent, and give additional weight to the 
opposition to the Government. As to Knox, I cannot persuade 
myself that he will incline to the appointment. He must sacri 
fice emolument by it, which must be of necessity a primary object 
with him. 

If it should be thought expedient to endeavor to unite in a 
particular character, there is a danger of a different kind to 
which we must not be inattentive the possibility of rendering 
it doubtful who is appointed President. You know the Consti 
tution has not provided the means of distinguishing in certain 
cases, and it would be disagreeable even to have a man treading 
close upon the heels of the person we wish as President. May 
not the malignity of the opposition be, in some instances, exhib 
ited even against him? Of all this we shall best judge, when 
we know who are our Electors ; and we must, in our different 
circles, take our measures accordingly. 

I could console myself for what you mention respecting your- 

490 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [&T. 32. 

self, from a desire to see you in one of the executive depart 
ments, did I not perceive the representation will be defective in 
characters of a certain description. Wilson is evidently out of 
the question. King tells me he does not believe he will be 
elected into either House. Mr. Gouverneur Morris set out to-day 
for France, by way of Philadelphia. If you are not in one of 
the branches, the Government may sincerely feel the want of 
men who unite to zeal all the requisite qualifications for parry 
ing the machinations of its enemies. Might I advise, it would 
be, that you bent your course to Virginia. 

Affectionately yours, 

Mr. J. Madison. 


Monday morning, January 4, 1789. 


I feel myself very much obliged by what you sent me yester 
day. The letter from Governor Johnston I return, much pleased 
to find so authentic an account of the adoption by North Caro 
lina of the Constitution. 

Yours, sincerely and affectionately, 



NEW- YORK, Jan. 29, 1789. 


I thank you for your two letters of the 4th and 7th instant, 
which arrived here during my absence at Albany, from which 
place I have but recently returned. I believe you may be per 
fectly tranquil on the subject of Mr. Adams's election. It seems 
to be certain that all the Middle States will vote for him to Dela- 


ware inclusively, and probably Maryland. In the South, there 
are no candidates thought of but Eutledge and Clinton. The 
latter will have the votes of Virginia, and it is possible some in 
South Carolina. Maryland will certainly not vote for Clinton, 
and New- York, from our Legislature having by their contentions 
let slip the day, will not vote at all. For the last circumstance, 
I am not sorry, as the most we could hope would be to balance 
accounts and do no harm. The Anti-federalists incline to an ap 
pointment notwithstanding, but I discourage it with the Federal 
ists. Under these circumstances, I see not how any person can 
come near Mr. Adams ; that is, taking it for granted that he will 
unite the votes in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. I expect 
that the Federal votes in Virginia, if any, will be in favor of 

You will probably have heard that our Legislature has passed 
a bill for electing Eepresentatives. The houses continue to dis 
agree about Senators, and I fear a compromise will be impracti 
cable. I do not, however, entirely lose hope. In this situation, 
you will perceive that we have much to apprehend respecting 
the seat of Government. The Pennsylvanians are endeavoring 
to bring their forces early in the field. I hope our friends in the 
North will not be behindhand. On many accounts, indeed, it 
appears to be important that there be an appearance of zeal and 
punctuality in coming forward to set the Government in motion. 

I shall learn with infinite pleasure that you are a Kepresenta- 
tive. As to me, this will not be the case I believe, from my 
own disinclination to the thing. We shall, however, I flatter 
myself, have a couple of Federalists. 

I remain your affectionate and obedient, 


492 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [-fir. 32. 


HARTFORD, February, 1789. 


Your favor of the 25fh January came in good time. Our 
votes were given agreeably to your wishes Washington, 7; 
Adams, 5 ; Governor Huntington, 2. By letters from Carring- 
ton, I learn that Clinton is the Anti-federal Vice-president ; but I 
think we have nothing to fear. I believe New Hampshire will 
give Adams 4; Massachusetts, 6; Georgia, 6 as letters from 
Georgia say he will have at least so many which, with ours, 
makes 21, which is more than Clinton can get, and we may cer 
tainly reckon on three more for Adams in South Carolina, Mary 
land, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. We waived an 
answer to your State, and to Virginia. As you did not get my 
letter in season to answer me on that subject, I feared we should 
not do any good by an answer ; and as the Anti-federalists did 
not move it, I thought we had best let it sleep. * * * 
I am, dear sir, 

Your affectionate friend, 





NOV 2 7 1987' 
HET'D NOV 1 6 


Book Slip-50m-12,'64(F772s4)458 


Hamilton, A. 

The works of Alexander